Chris Wilder admitted his side was second best at Newport County and confirmed an injury to Kaid Mohamed disrupted his plans for the match.
Wilder had intended to name an unchanged side for the game at Rodney Parade but left-winger Mohamed suffered a cut foot in training and had to be replaced by Darren Carter, while Jordan Archer was in goal in place of Matt Duke, who has had a scan on a thigh injury.
Neither absence was vital in the defeat to Newport, who the manager admitted won all of their individual battles and were full value for their 3-2 victory.
“We were second best,” he said. “We didn’t win enough first and second balls and they were quicker than us when they didn’t have the ball, which gave them more opportunities to control the game, which they did.
“Tactics and formations go out of the window when you start as slowly as we did. We knew how good they’d be because we watched them and they knew how good we would be because they’ve seen us play too.
“They were much brighter than us and won more headers, races and tackles. When the ball broke to them they got hold of it and we couldn’t get a foothold in the game at all.
“I don’t expect us to pull out of challenges but they were quicker to it than we were and closed us down quicker than we did. They anticipated better and we were more reactive.”
Town are ninth in Sky Bet League Two as a result but play successive home games next week, with Hartlepool at Sixfields on Tuesday night and managerless Accrington visiting on Saturday.
Mohamed should return for those games and provide Wilder with an option to play a more similar system to the one that was so effective at Dagenham.
“I think we would have been lucky to have got something from the game,” he said. “But at least we had the commitment to go after them in the closing stages.
“There was no way I’d have changed the team from last week. Mo (Kaid Mohamed) would have played and he was desperate to play but he’s got a gash on top of his foot and we couldn’t use him.
“He tried it in training and he couldn’t strike a ball with that foot. That’s quite a basic requirement so there’s no way he could have played.”