CARETAKER boss Sam Collins blasted his side’s “criminal” defending after watching Hartlepool United suffer their 14th league defeat.
The 37-year-old was placed in temporary charge following the sacking of Paul Murray after the FA Cup defeat to Blyth Spartans and his second spell as boss couldn’t have gone much worse.
Pools managed just one shot on target as Burton Albion thumped Pools 4-0 at the Pirelli Stadium to move up to second in Sky Bet League Two.
For 44 minutes Pools had matched Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side yet as soon as the first went in just before the break, Pools fell apart.
Alex MacDonald scored either side of half-time to kill the game as a contest, as the away side produced another shambolic second-half display.
The centre back pairing of Matthew Bates and Neil Austin were all over the place for the first two goals.
Collins said: “We had prepared well and gave them every piece of information they needed.
“You cannot legislate for what happened out there.
“It’s up to the players on the pitch and there’s enough experience for it not to happen.
“For 44 minutes we were very comfortable, really comfortable.
“We worked on what they like to do and how they play under Jimmy [Floyd Hasselbaink].
“They try and stretch the pitch and play wide and we frustrated them, making them play long diagonal balls which is what we wanted.
“Then to give a goal away a minute before half-time, it’s hard to try and have that momentum we need.
“If we had gone in at 0-0 half-time then everyone would be happy.
“To make it two after seconds is criminal.”
Pools, with just three league wins all season, remain six points adrift of safety after Tranmere Rovers leapfrogged Carlisle United to climb out of the drop zone.
With a goal difference of -24 the gap is effectively seven points going into the busy festive period.
Collins admits there is a “fragility” about the side, with confidence rock bottom at the Victoria Park outfit.
“There is a fragility because confidence is low,” admitted the player coach.
“We have tried to get what happened previously out of our systems as quickly as possible, giving them some confidence in the way we work with the players.
“But we aren’t scoring many goals, so giving one away makes it hard.
“Now we have to try and lift them again.
“It’s a mental thing, but we need to be mentally strong, we need men, we need characters.
“Second-half wasn’t good enough, there’s enough experience on the pitch, young and old, to do a job.
“This club pays people to deal with those situations – if you are a defender you get paid to do that, simple as that.”