HONEST James Poole admits his Hartlepool United team mates failed to reach the standards they set themselves in the defeat to Exeter City.
First half goals from Jimmy Keohane and David Wheeler secured a 2-0 win for the Grecians at Victoria Park in the last match of the Sky Bet League Two campaign.
The result - in front of 4,700 Pools supporters at Victoria Park - meant Colin Cooper’s side finished the season in 19th spot, just three points above relegated Bristol Rovers.
Cooper couldn’t hide his anger afterwards and Poole, who returned to the starting line-up said all departments on the pitch had to share responsibility.
Poole insisted the poor performance wasn’t for the want of trying and said it had nothing to do with it being the last game of the season either, with both sides already safe from relegation.
The 24-year-old forward said: “As a team we were not up to our high standards and I would look at myself and say I could have perhaps done better here and there.
“As always, you come off the pitch and pick little bits and bobs out but it is about learning.
“Even though it is the last game of the season, some may say it doesn’t mean anything, but it meant something to us as a team.
“We weren’t quite good enough and even though we were safe we were still desperate to win for ourselves and the fans.”
The former Man City graduate couldn’t put his finger on exactly what went wrong, but said there has been too many occasions this term when the team has failed to perform.
Hence the drop from outside play-off contenders earlier this year to relegation candidates in recent weeks.
Poole added: “It was a collection of things and we weren’t up to scratch.
“It wasn’t for a lack of trying or effort or wanting to win but it was just a dissapointing way to finish the season.
“Because we were safe some people may say we were not bothered and heard a few people talk about playing with flips flops on etc but that wasn’t the case.
“We wanted to give the fans something to smile about over the summer.
“But sometimes you do get games like that.
“Sadly, we have had too many of them this season and if you can limit them you can do well in this league.”
Pools were miles off the pace for much of the League Two match, allowing Paul Tisdale’s side time and space to pass the ball and eventually go in at the break leading 2-0.
Poole said: “They were tidy, looked to pass but we were short in all departments really.
“If we could have upped our game a little bit then we wouldn’t have given them the time.
“In this league we have seen enough times that you can look brilliant one day and the next game it is completely different.
“The key to this league is consistency.
“It is not an easy fix as 92 Football League clubs want that consistency, as you will find the most consistent will finish highest.
“It is something we can work on as a team and look to do something about it.”
- RICHARD MENNEAR