JOHN Hughes has warned that Hartlepool United cannot afford any more “flat” performances if they are to avoid relegation from League One.
The Scot was not happy with his side’s display during Saturday’s defeat at Doncaster Rovers.
The result brought to a close a seven-game unbeaten run which had peaked during last Tuesday’s impressive 3-0 disposal of Crewe Alexandra.
Hughes, though, believes their weekend effort was “miles away” from that performance and says a repeat against Colchester United tomorrow night is not an option if they are to escape the drop.
“I’ve been into the guys and they know when we’re not at our best,” the Pools boss said.
“I’m reluctant to be critical of them but I ask – was there the same effort and commitment which was there on Tuesday night?
“It was flat and I just felt we didn’t play with the energy we did on Tuesday, which was disappointing.”
Hughes will now demand that his players rally ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash with The U’s. They were 2-0 winners at Stevenage on Saturday to move two points clear of the drop zone, Pools slipping eight from safety.
Doncaster went ahead when Iain Hume was given far too much space before firing home.
Former Pools man James Coppinger made it two early in the second half, turning home in scruffy fashion following some more untidy defending from the visitors.
Billy Paynter completed the scoring with a firm header.
Doncaster: Gary Woods, Quinn, Rob Jones, McCombe, Spurr, Cotterill (Bennett 85), Syers, Lundstram, Husband, Hume (Paynter 63), Coppinger. Subs not used: Maxted, Sinclair, Harper, Wakefield, Ball. Goals: Hume 35, Coppinger 54, Paynter 81.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Monkhouse, Baldwin, Humphreys, Wyke, Poole (Howard 59), Franks (James 59). Subs not used: McHugh, Walker, Luscombe, Rutherford, Holden. Booked: Wyke.
Att: 7,457 Ref: Steve Bratt (W Midlands).