SCATHING Sam Collins questioned his players’ mental strength after the 3-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley.
The caretaker-manager was left fuming with his side’s inept showing, which saw Pools drop into the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone.
John Coleman’s side took the lead through Shay McCartan in the 19th minute only for Pools to pull level through a Matthew Bates header three minutes before half-time.
To Collins’ horror, his side then shot themselves in the foot, conceding moments before the break through Rob Atkinson’s free header.
McCartan then added a third in the second half to seal the three points.
“You come to places like Accrington and you have to puff your shoulders out,” said Collins, who was raging at the final whistle.
“Forget about the dressing rooms, the surroundings – the grass is still the same colour and the pitch the same size.
“It is about having heart and some mental toughness to want to defend and stop people scoring and winning your one v one battles.
“That is how you win football matches.
“We need some mentally strong people.”
Accrington’s second, in particular, left Collins bouncing.
Firstly for conceding so soon after going in front and secondly, because he had spent time with the squad highlighting how dangerous the home side were from set pieces.
It led to a half-time dressing down and the players were quickly sent back out on to the field to ‘warm up’ in the sub-zero temperatures in Lancashire.
Collins added: “I wasn’t happy at all at half-time.
“I was trying to question people’s mentality, wanting them to throw their head in where it hurts, to get their eye cut or their nose broke - that is what you have to do.
“I wanted us to be positive and have a go at people.
“But it was just not good enough.
“We are not giving ourselves a chance in games.
“We work hard on being well organised and hard to beat and I watch them in training every day and think ‘I fancy us come the game’.
“Then, whether it is mental toughness or what, we need to stop giving goals away like we are.”
Collins, who is expected to be in charge for the weekend trip to Cambridge United, has been caretaker since Colin Cooper resigned almost three weeks ago.
The 37-year-old admitted he was “hurting” after last night’s defeat and said the players need to start doing their jobs better.
Defeat last night left Pools second bottom with 11 points from 14 matches - nine of which have ended in defeat.
Collins added: “After getting back into the game to give a goal away a couple of minutes later from a set piece was very disappointing.
“It really hurts. I have tried to give them as much information as possible and get them well prepared.
“But when people don’t concentrate and don’t do their jobs properly then that is why we are where we are.
“We can test goalkeepers more, our crossing can be better and there are so many things - not just from last night - that we have to do better.”