In the end we paid for what the boss described as a ‘lacklustre’ first half display that saw us 2-0 down via a Branko Strupar double — a tap in from a corner and a penalty after Alton Thelwell felled Malcolm Christie.
It was a different story after the break as we dominated but we only had Taribo West’s own goal to show for that dominance.
George insisted: “It's a shame we're having to throw these youngsters in but they're having to learn - and making mistakes is part of the process of learning, but we're getting punished for those things.
"Alton Thelwell made a mistake. I don't know whether it was a penalty or not, it could have been a bit harsh, but he’s still only 20 and still learning.
“Young Thelwell looked a little nervous and that’s why I took him off at half-time. But it’s part of the learning process. We had two 20-year-olds at the back and that’s been forced upon us by injuries.”
Anthony Gardner came on for his Premiership debut for Thelwell and looked comfortable as we pushed for some reward.
George added: “Anthony did well and I thought the second half was excellent. We took total control and apart from one breakaway we controlled it and deserved a draw.
“I liked the energy and the application in the second half and I thought in the end we deserved a draw, but we had to up our tempo completely from the first half which was very lacklustre. It just wasn’t good enough.”
By Paul Miles at Pride Park
George Graham has hinted for a while that he would like to give his youngsters a rest and those thoughts were close at hand again after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Derby County.