Chris’ Brunt assessment
Not many Northern Ireland players were quick to leave the dressing room on Wednesday night and share their thoughts with the assembled press.
It was a night when a World Cup dream died and, not surprisingly, they didn’t want to talk about it.
Chris Brunt was the first to enter the mixed zone and he wasn’t prepared to offer any excuses.
The second half substitute for Martin Paterson was sent on to conjure up a goal from something but the Slovakia defence stood firm.
The West Brom winger could have attempted to over-analyse but his frank conclusion was spot on.
“We didn’t create enough good chances and at this level of football you will be punished,” he said.
“We have to hold our hands up. We let ourselves down. We simply weren’t good enough whereas they played well.
“Obviously we were missing players like Kyle Lafferty and Warren Feeney but we did not do ourselves justice.
“They dug in hard and outplayed us at times. On the whole we got exactly what we deserved.”
Northern Ireland moved up a gear after the break but they lacked the guile and inspiration to break down stubborn opponents who were committed to making their own history.
“When you are chasing the game, the other team can go up the field and kill you off. That is what happened,” added Brunt.
“We shot ourselves in the foot by giving away the goal and then you end up chasing a goal yourself.
“You leave yourself exposed at the back and they took their chance. We can’t really have any complaints.
“I know I was sent up front but, although I have done it before with Sheffield Wednesday, I wouldn’t like to make it a regular occurance.
“I can look like a headless chicken though it is good to be involved.
“We just have to go to the Czech Republic and try and get a win. That was always going to be the case anyway.
“Qualification is looking pretty unlikely but until you are told otherwise, you keep going.
“Everyone is disappointed as we let ourselves down and we only have ourselves to blame.”