FURIOUS Mick Wadsworth blasted his players for their “on the beach” mentality during Saturday’s second-half capitulation at Walsall.
Hartlepool were cruising towards victory with a little over half an hour remaining following Colin Larkin’s double strike.
But a string of defensive lapses saw the visitors smash five goals in the last third of the game, prompting a raging Wadsworth to question the professionalism of his team.
“It was game over for us – we were putting the Speedos in the holiday bag ready for the trip,” slammed the Pools boss.
“Two up and coasting to victory and controlling it – how on earth does it end like that?
“None of the 10 outfield players at any one time did their job – not one.
“At two up it’s about being professional and dogged, which we have done this season.
“But every time we get into the upper part of the league we lose our nerve – it’s happened before and it’s happened again and it’s so disappointing.”
The Saddlers pulled one back in fortuitous fashion when a wayward attempt at goal fell for striker Will Grigg to turn home.
Darren Byfield then levelled with an unmarked header, a Sam Collins error led to Julian Gray’s third, Manny Smith was left unattended for a fourth and Emmanuel Ledesma fired an injury-time free-kick.
And Wadsworth, who apologised to the away fans, admits it was one of the worst second-half surrenders he’s ever seen.
“It’s one of the biggest collapses I’ve witnessed in my career and I’ve been around a bit,” he added.
“I can only apologise to the 200 supporters.
“We played well and the system worked as we gave them problems.
“They started the second half well, which I thought they would, be it was us who got a second.
“But supporters deserve better than that and every player, apart from Scotty (Flinders) who was left bare backsided, was not on top of their game in that period when we needed to close the game off.
“For us that has been a simple task at times this season and we didn’t do it.”
Walsall: Walker, Westlake, Smith, Butler, Williams, Nicholls (Ledesma 56), Gbarssin, Richards, Gray, Byfield (McDonald 82), Macken (Grigg 16). Subs Not Used: Bevan, Lancashire, Marshall, Taundry. Booked: Gbarssin.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Haslam (Bjornsson 46), Collins, Hartley, McSweeney, Liddle, Murray (Humphreys 77), Gamble, Horwood, Monkhouse, Larkin (Yantorno 83). Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Boyd, Johnson, Donaldson.
Att: 4,234 Ref: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).