Craig Hignett bemoaned his side’s “sloppiness” and lack of a “ruthless” touch as Pools fell to a 2-1 defeat at Stockport County on Wednesday night.
Pools struggled against a resurgent County in the first half, going a goal down early on to Ash Palmer’s neat low finish.
It was two on 21 minutes when Tom Walker stroked home, just 60 seconds after Ryan Donaldson had gone over the bar at the other end.
But the first half belonged to the hosts, who could have been further in front but for the woodwork.
The second half was a different story as Pools grew into the game and pulled one back five minutes from time thanks to Nicke Kabamba’s first goal of the season after fellow sub Gavin Holohan’s drive had been beaten out by Ben Hinchliffe.
There was drama in the final minute of regulation time as Hinchliffe produced a superb save to thwart Gime Toure and with the last kick of the game, sub Josh Hawkes put a free-kick over the bar.
“If we had scored earlier, we might have got something from the match,” said Hignett afterwards.
“But we didn’t score until five minutes from time and then we huffed and puffed and didn’t make enough of our opportunities.
“We were sloppy with their goals, we had spoken and worked on set-pieces and the threat there and they scored early from a set-piece.
“The second goal was sloppy too. The first half was too sloppy in general, it was too slow.
“At half time, we had words, made a change, went a bit more attacking and the second half was as good as we’ve been this season at times.
“They had one shot at the back post that Nyal Bell could not keep down, but other than that they rarely got near our half.
“We had a right go in the second half, which I knew we would, but you can’t start games like that.
“We weren’t ruthless enough – but I’ve been saying that since the start pf the season and it’s something we need to address.”