One of the few players to come out of Hartlepool United’s eighth defeat of the season with any credit was Rhys Oates.
And the 20-year-old forward admitted nobody could have any complaints over manager Ronnie Moore’s fierce assessment of his side’s performance.
If we’d played like we did when we went down to 10 men then we could have won the game.RHYS OATES
Fuming Moore was scathing, particularly with the opening half of the 2-1 defeat to Crawley Town at Victoria Park.
Oates was crowned man of the match, which had more to do with the lack of other contenders than anything else.
But the young prospect, who has been playing as a winger this season, at least worked hard and put in a shift.
Oates, whose natural position is a striker, admitted there was a sombre atmosphere inside the Pools dressing room post-match.
Defeat saw them drop to 19th in League Two, with almost a third of the season now gone.
Oates said: “The manager was the same in the dressing room at half-time as he was afterwards and you can’t argue with what he said.
“We started flat and didn’t play as we should have, it was such a disappointing result.
“If we’d played like we did when we went down to 10 men then we could have won the game.
“That was the frustrating part, we started so slowly. We didn’t have any quick tempo to our game and people were backing out of tackles.
“It just wasn’t a good start to the game.”
Pools were dreadful first half but the performance levels stepped up a notch after the break with the introduction of Michael Woods and on-loan winger Jason Banton injecting some positivity.
Mark Heywood’s decision to dismiss Scott Harrison and award Crawley Town a 66th-minute penalty changed the complexion of the game.
After Simon Walton had dispatched the spot-kick, Pools finally showed a bit of fight.
But a 76th-minute tap-in by Rhys Murphy proved to be the winner, meaning Pools had extended their run of home games without a win to eight. Oates added: “If we’d have played like we did for the last half hour from the start then we could have easily won.
“First half they had quite a few good chances, Trevor [Carson] has pulled off more than one good save.
“We were lucky to go in at 0-0 really and then second half, the penalty happened.
“I don’t think it was a penalty and a sending off but once it has happened you just have to keep going. We could have got a point if we hadn’t conceded that second.”