Hartlepool United’s players have to “stand up and take the stick” from fans.
That was the admission from defender Carl Magnay following Pools’ 6-1 League Two humbing at Stevenage.
Magnay said the team was “embarrassed” by a performance he labelled “unacceptable”.
The supporters in the away end let the players know how they felt at the full-time whistle, and full-back Magnay admitted: “They will be angry and they have every right to be angry, we’ll get stick.
“We’ve got to be men and stand up and take it – the supporters pay good money to come and watch us.
“It’s not acceptable, we have to be better on Saturday. We apologise to the fans for what they have seen.
“Whatever we say now won’t things feel any better. But what we have to promise is, in terms of work-rate, we have to make it harder for teams to beat us.
“We have to make a commitment to the supporters that it won’t happen again.”
Magnay said sorry to the management too, adding that it is imperative Pools bounce back at second-bottom Yeovil Town this Saturday.
“We must be better and we have to have a positive reaction at Yeovil,” said Magnay.
Nathan Thomas took advantage of a defensive blunder to give Pools a fourth-minute lead, but a series of Pools blunders characterised the rest of the match.
Tom Pett and Tyler Walker gave Stevenage a 2-1 interval lead before Walker, Dean Wells, Michael Tonge and Matt Godden completed the rout in the second period.
“It was a bizarre day,” explained Magnay, who said the absence of the likes of Matthew Bates, Rob Jones and Toto Nsiala was no excuse.
“We started well and looked superior with the ball. But, for the next 70 minutes, we were too easy to play through.”
Stevenage: Jones, Henry (Kerr 81), Wells (Lee 77), Franks, Ntlhe, Pett, King, Tonge, Fox, Godden, Walker (Cowans 73). Subs not used: Liburd, Hyde, Day, Hunte. Booked: Ntlhe. Goals: Pett 27, Walker 44 & 57, Wells 53, Tonge 69 pen, Godden 78.
Hartlepool: Bartlett, Richards, Magnay, Harrison, Carroll, Woods (Laurent 70), Featherstone, Deverdics (Paynter 56), Alessandra, Amond (Fewster 60), Thomas. Subs not used: Heardman, Hawkins, Martin, Dudzinski. Booked: Richards, Harrison. Goal: Thomas 4. Ref: John Busby (Oxfordshire).