JOHN Hughes refused to blame Hartlepool United trio Scot Flinders, Neil Austin and Jack Baldwin for the 2-1 defeat to Oldham Athletic.
They each had an unwanted role to play in the result which leaves Pools rock bottom of League One and 10 points from safety.
There were just 17 minutes on the clock when goalkeeper Flinders attempted an outfield pass but merely succeeded in finding a visiting shirt and Jose Baxter was teed-up for the opening goal.
Tony Sweeney did level for Pools after the break but they were reduced to 10 men when Austin went over the top on James Weslowski, earning himself a straight red and three-game ban.
And, with just three minutes of injury-time remaining, teenage substitute Baldwin needlessly handled inside the area when challenging for a cross.
Flinders saved Baxter’s initial spot-kick but he followed up to steal victory for The Latics.
And Hughes told SportMail: “We beat ourselves in the end.
“You cannot legislate for the mistake young Jack made.
“I’m bitterly disappointed for the players and there has to be an understanding that luck is not with us right now.
“But it was definitely a penalty-kick and it was definitely a red card.”
Hughes, though, did not criticise his guilty trio.
“Jack is a lovely kid and a well-liked kid and a feel for him,” he went on.
“When he jumps I think his arm might have been pushed up towards it, but that’s just the cruel luck we’re carrying at this moment.
“But he’s got a massive future in front of him and it’s our job to get around him and make sure he forgets it – it’s done and dusted, let’s move on.
“I’m sure he’ll head one off the line for us or score one at the other end.
“I felt for Aussie as well but as soon as you leave the ground it’s a sending-off.
“And as for Scotty, we want to try to play and give him more options when he has it.
“That’s what we’re working on and errors are part and parcel of football – you’ll never see me blaming Scotty or young Jack or Aussie.
“It’s about the next one, ‘give me that here again’.
“We’ve got to have the belief to go again and pick ourselves up.”
Meanwhile, Simon Walton is facing at least two weeks on the sidelines having tweaked his hamstring during the first half of last night’s game.