John Hughes admitted that the sending-off of Simon Walton proved to be a key moment in the 2-0 defeat to MK Dons at Victoria Park.
The midfielder was given his marching orders early in the second half with the score at 1-0 before the visitors extended their lead and saw out the game.
"The sending off looks harsh and it just seems to happen that these decisions go against Hartlepool," Hughes told Pools Player.
"It had a massive bearing n the game - it was always going to be hard when it was eleven against eleven but that swung it.
"I couldn't fault the effort and commitment, and even with ten men we played some good football but it's so evident that we lack a goal threat or somebody who can unlock the door in the final third.
"We seem to more hope that someone will come up with something rather than going and making it happen.
"It's been a difficult day all round - losing Humphs before kick-off, Sweens after twenty minutes or so and then Evan at half time; it's a bitter pill to swallow.
"But we need to dust ourselves down and get going - we can't feel sorry for ourselves so we have to look for big hearts at Stevenage and guys that will get out there and roll their sleeves up."
Pools have lodged an appeal against Walton's red card, while Humphreys (calf), Horwood and Sweeney (both hamstring) will be assessed prior to Monday's game.
See the full video interview with John Hughes right now only on Pools Player.