Armel Bella-Kotchap offered an honest assessment following Southampton’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham on New Year’s Eve.
Behind at the break after Andreas Pereira’s shot was deflected into his own net by James Ward-Prowse, the Saints captain spectacularly levelled with a 30-yard free-kick after the restart.
Worthy of at least a share of the spoils, the visitors were undone late on when João Palhinha headed home from a corner to keep Nathan Jones’s side in the relegation zone.
Reflecting on a disappointing trip to the capital, Bella-Kotchap said: “It’s difficult because we conceded two goals from set-pieces.
“We talked about them and we want to improve that, but we conceded two easy goals and that cannot happen in the situation we are in. We have to defend properly.
"We created good chances and we had good patterns, we have done it well. After conceding the [winning] goal it was like a disaster and it’s difficult for us in that situation and we have to defend properly as we said, and hopefully we can do better against Nottingham Forest.”
Saints will now prepare for Wednesday night’s showdown with Forest at St Mary’s, targeting a winning start to 2023.
Looking ahead, the German international added: “We played well, we played front-footed and this was the game plan the coach told us before.
“We have to take the positives from today and we have to invest a lot more against Nottingham at home to come out of that situation.
“It’s a big game for me because we know with three points we can have the chance to come up from that situation. It’s difficult right now after the game, but we will stick together as a team and do our best.”