HARTLEPOOL boss John Hughes admits he got his tactics wrong during the first half at MK Dons – but was pleased with the manner in which Pools came close to snatching a point.
The visitors were penned in their own half for much of the opening period and it came as no surprise when they fell behind on 16 minutes.
Had it not been for the heroics of goalkeeper Scott Flinders, the hosts would have been out of sight by the break.
But a half-time reshuffle and a change of game-plan saw a much-improved Pools emerge after the interval and they might even have nicked a share of the spoils late on.
“That was a big test for us in the first half,” Hughes said. “We failed that but the second half was better.
“I might have got it wrong tactically in the first half. But that’s building on where we want to go as a club.
“We wanted to build on the good football we played last week.
“That might be a bit too much to ask at this stage, because they were a right good football team – they are better than us.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in that first half but just about rescued it in the second – it was a much better performance.
“We could have stolen something from the match. I’m just pleased we had a go in the second half and went down fighting.”
The decisive goal arrived amid a strong suspicion of offside when Ryan Lowe, unmarked just yards from goal, volleyed home.
Hughes remonstrated with the fourth official, but later admitted a Pools defender had played the scorer onside.
The defeat sets a new club record of 21 games without a win. Next up are Portsmouth at Victoria Park on Saturday.
Defender Jack Baldwin will miss that game, having picked up his fifth booking of the season at the weekend.
MK Dons: Martin, Doumbe, Lewington, Kay, Williams, Bowditch, Gleeson, Potter, Chadwick, Balanta (Ismail 61), Lowe (MacDonald 83). Subs not used: McLoughlin, Smith, Chicksen, Powell, Sekajja. Goals: Lowe 16.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Richards, Horwood (Holden 5), Collins, Baldwin, Franks (Poole 71), Sweeney, Humphreys, Monkhouse, Howard, Wyke (Rutherford 81). Subs not used: McHugh, Murray, Johnson, Boagey. Booked: Sweeney, Baldwin, Rutherford.
Att: 7,164 Ref: Roger East (Wiltshire).