Fuming Barrow AFC boss Mark Cooper slammed his side’s lack of desire in their 3-1 defeat to in-form Mansfield Town.

The Bluebirds had seemingly turned the corner after a positive performance in their heartbreaking nine-goal thriller FA Cup third round defeat at Barnsley and a first away league win since October at Colchester United.

But ten-man Mansfield secured an impressive seventh straight league win thanks to goals from Rhys Oates, Stephen McLaughlin and Jordan Bowery at Holker Street.

James Jones levelled for the hosts in the first half and Farrend Rawson was sent off with 51 minutes left, with the visitors 2-1 up.

But it wasn’t enough for Barrow, who remained seven points above the relegation zone.

And it was the manner in which Barrow conceded which infuriated the manager.

Angry Cooper said: “You can’t win a game of football if you concede three free headers in your own box from set pieces. It makes the game impossible to win because obviously you have to score four goals.

“You have to have a want and a desire to want to stick your head on the ball.

“The worrying thing for me is we have defenders who are out of contract in the summer so they’ve either signed pre contracts somewhere else of aren’t bothered about staying.

“If you don’t and you give the opposition a leg up it becomes a difficult afternoon and that’s what we did.

“Your centre halves have got to head the ball that’s predominantly their job. They have to be big and strong and head it.

“They know from when they are eight or nine years old you have to keep heading the ball.

“It’s League Two; the ball’s going to keep coming in your box. There’s nothing clever about it.

“All three goals are balls delivered into the box and their forwards had more desire to win the ball. It’s as simple as that and why we lost the game.”

Barrow got off to the worst possible start as Oates put the visitors ahead in the first minute.

Luke James had a goal chalked off for a push, before Jones headed Robbie Gotts’ corner in off the post.

McLaughlin fired the Stags back ahead before Rawson pushed the self destruct button as he received two yellow cards in four minutes to be shown red — like he did in the reverse fixture.

But Barrow failed to capitalise as Bowery put the game to bed with 22 minutes left.

“It’s frustrating for me because we put some good performances together,” added Cooper.

“We kept crossing it against the biggest centre halves in the league.

“It’s a culmination of gifting them goals and being behind.

“If we defend like that I’ll be frightened to death.

“The difference between the two teams was one set of defenders wanted to head the ball and the other didn’t. It’s clear and simple.

“I don’t like singling out players and I’ve stuck by them all season, but that defensively was horrendous.”