HARTLEPOOL United skipper Sam Collins emerged from the wreckage of last night’s 4-0 defeat at Oldham Athletic and declared – “It’s time for clear-the-air talks”.
The 33-year-old was clearly upset and angered by the 90 minutes which had preceded and didn’t pull any punches when he said it might be time for a few home truths to be aired.
“We need to regroup, get back together and get back to being the team we were and can be,” he said following a 4-0 defeat which leaves Pools four points clear of the League One relegation zone.
“Let’s stick together and sort it out. I’m sure Mick (Wadsworth) will have his thoughts on it all and have a chat.
“There’s no point in hiding about it, we need to find out and put it right now with 20-odd games to go and not another five or ten games down the line.
“It might be something we need to do, get together and have a chat. We’ve done it in the last couple of years and it can work for us.”
Collins came closer than any Pools player to scoring their first away league goal since Boxing Day, first heading wide from six yards and then denied by keeper Ben Amos from another header, both times having connected with Evan Horwood flag-kick deliveries.
And he added: “We started to get back into the game (after going a goal down) and I had a couple of chances with headers.
“I should have scored before half-time, there was a lot of pace on the ball and I tried to use that pace to get it on goal.
“The second I timed it perfectly and thought I’d done enough, but the keeper made a decent save.
“But we started the second half really well and one ball upfield and they scored from it.
“From our point of view it’s not good enough and all four of them (goals) were like that – we have to put a stop to it or we will get sucked into it.”
The breakthrough goal, after just seven minutes, arrived in haphazard fashion.
Sunderland loanee Oumare Tounkara was afforded time and space inside the area and, when his shot was saved by Scott Flinders and Paul Murray struggled to scramble clear the rebound, Aidan White blasted in from two yards out.
It was 2-0 on 50 minutes after Peter Hartley twice relinquished the opportunity to clear with his head, that hesitation ultimately paving the way for Chris Taylor to smash home from close range, despite the efforts of Neil Austin, blocking on the line from Filipe Morais, to recover the situation.
Marauding full-back Cedric Evina arrowed an unstoppable third into the top corner on 69 minutes and substitute Reuben Reid, unforgivably unchaperoned inside the area, headed a fourth to compound Pools’ misery in stoppage time.