COLIN Cooper expressed his frustration that midfielder Simon Walton allowed the “red mist” to descend leaving Hartlepool United down to 10 men.
Walton was given his marching orders in the 75th minute after picking up two yellow cards within the space of 10 minutes.
It left Pools down to 10 men for the remaining 15 minutes and Oxford United took advantage two minutes after the red card was produced by referee Andy Davies, through David Connolly’s stooping header.
The initial booking was Walton’s 10th of the season which would have meant he missed the back-to-back home matches this week against Mansfield Town and Cheltenham Town.
But it is understood the red card means he will now just miss Tuesday’s home match but remain on nine yellows with the prospect of a two-game ban if he picks up another before the end of the season.
It left Cooper angry on the touchline as Walton had been a key player in recent weeks and he admits his absence is a big blow.
Cooper said: “I was just frustrated how he allowed himself to get the second yellow.
“Tony Sweeney was stood on the sidelines [ready to come on] and I said to him let’s make sure the message is Si stays on the pitch.
“Before I got Sweens on the pitch, Si was off.
“That is the frustrating bit.
“I saw the signs but he had another lunge before I had chance to get the message to him.”
The Pools manager will now look to his other squad members for the visit of Mansfield Town on Tuesday.
Cooper said: “Simon has been heading towards the yellow cards totting up anyway so I would probably have had a decision to make anyway.
“Now it is just a bit quicker.
“We are not short of players that can do that job, we have to decide who is the right person to do it or to play in another position to allow somebody else to do that job.
“The decision is whether we stick with someone in that role or do something different and allow another forward player.
“We’ll sit down on Monday and see what Mansfield have to offer and see what we have to do for Tuesday night.”
Walton’s red card presents an opportunity for somebody else to step in at least and with just eight games to go.
The 26-year-old may even find it hard getting back in.
Cooper added: “As we said about Andy [Monkhouse], Simon has played a lot of games and has been an integral part of the team and the squad.
“The red mist coming down means we will miss him for at least one game.
“It is now an opportunity for somebody else.
“With eight games to go, if somebody comes in and does the job then I have a difficult decision to make.”