Craig Hignett was dismayed that his Hartlepool United side failed to convert a first-half lead into a comfortable win against Notts County on Saturday.
Pools led through Toto Nsiala’s eighth-minute goal at the Northern Gas and Power Stadium, but second-half goals from ex-Sunderland men Louis Laing and Jon Stead gave Notts all three points.
Hignett said after the 2-1 defeat: “The disappointing thing is we got our noses in front, sat back and just coasted. I said to Buster, our physio, ‘they’ll score here and they did’.
“We wanted to score first, make that count and play the we did. But we just coasted after we scored.
“We just carried on, let the game happen, didn’t impose ourselves.
“We were really dominant and if we had scored again we would have gone on and won comfortably.”
The introduction of veteran ex-Leeds and Manchester United star Alan Smith, after the hour mark, appeared to inspire Notts and his arrival, as well as the change in formation, stemmed Pools.
“When Shez (John Sheridan, Notts’ boss) went two up front it made a difference and they went more direct and it caused problems. We didn’t manage the game well enough,” Hignett added.
“But when that happens you have to manage the game. They have to recognise that as players and do something on the pitch.”
Both Notts goals could have been avoided had players been picked up and prevented from having a clear sight of goal, but even after they went behind, Pools didn’t look like equalising.
“It’s a little disappointing. We’re at home, you score first which is what we ask them to do, and you come away with nothing. The manner of goals were disappointing too,” the manager rued.
“The two goals were really poor defensively so we’ll do some work on that and our shape without the ball this week. We huffed and puffed, got in their box and a had a few shots but didn’t get into the final third.”
Hartlepool Utd: Carson, Magnay (Richards 22), Nsiala, Bates, Carroll, Alessandra, Featherstone, Woods (Laurent 86), Thomas, Amond, Paynter (Hawkins 70). Booked: Paynter. Goal: Nsiala 8
Notts County: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Laing, Dickinson, Forte (Oliver 61), O’Connor, Aborah (Smith 62), Rodman, Campbell, Stead (Audel 90). Goals: Laing 65, Stead 76
Att: 3,708. Ref: Michael Denton (Lancashire)