Dave Jones bemoaned lapses of concentration after Hartlepool United went down to a 2-1 defeat at Colchester United.
The only consolation for Pools was the fact they avoided falling into the drop zone after Leyton Orient lost 1-0 at home to fellow strugglers Cheltenham.
Pools were chasing the game after going two down in the second half.
Kurtis Guthrie headed in Richard Brindley's 63rd-minute cross before front partner Chris Porter beat Joe Fryer from the spot in the 78th minute after Liam Donnell's clumsy challenge on Guthrie.
Pools received a lifeline when
Nathan Thomas poked in his eighth goal of the season eight minutes from time.
But despite heavy late pressure and nine minutes of injury time, the U's held out.
Jones said: “We made it hard for ourselves.
“For long spells we were the better team, but lapses in concentration cost us and we conceded poor goals.
"When you're in control of the game you have to get your goal and not give them away.
"I’ve said before it seems to be the trait at this club and we have to change it.
“The penalty? He shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place, I’d have been screaming for it.
"They must have hit that ball 40 times in the game and we fell for it.
“People say this level is about concentration and it cost us again.
" It’s frustrating for us, I’m a bit angry with them at the moment as they are so close to it, but they have to believe it."