Dundee United boss Jackie McNamara says fear of a red card was behind his decision to take off striker Nadir Ciftci as the Premiership leaders lost 2-0 to Kilmarnock.
With just under a quarter of an hour to go at Rugby Park, McNamara replaced the Turk with Ola Adeyemo as the Tangerines were trying desperately to claw their way back into the match.
Second-half goals from Tope Obadeyi and Mark Connolly had put Killie in control and Ciftci was clearly getting angry and upset.
McNamara said: “We were worried about him getting sent off. There were a few challenges and fouls on him and I think he was over-doing it at times, getting frustrated. There was certainly a worry there.
“He took a couple of knocks as well and he has to adapt to that. It is a compliment the way teams play against him and try to put him off his game.
“He has to be mentally stronger and show them that even when he is not getting a decision. Even though it is a foul he should not stop but, rather, should keep chasing.”
The Ciftci saga was only one disappointment on a miserable night for United.
McNamara added: “We took half-an-hour to settle into the game and were too deep at times. You would have thought we were nearer the bottom of the league than the top with our distribution at times.
“We should be braver on the ball and too many players were off the pace. It’s disappointing because we have looked solid this season.
“I think they (Killie) deserved it. I am not making excuses about the pitch because I don’t think it was too bad to be honest. I just think we can do a lot better than that.
“To be honest, I said a few things to them there. If you want to be successful these are the games you have to deal with.
“You should come off with your shirt soaking with sweat having given everything you’ve got. I think there were one or two tonight who weren’t in that category.”