HARTLEPOOL United chief executive Russ Green believes the club’s relegation can be traced back to last month’s defeat to rivals Oldham Athletic.
It was The Latics who last night confirmed Pools’ demotion to the bottom division after a six-season stay in League One.
Lee Johnson’s men were 1-0 victors over Yeovil Town – managed by his father, Gary – to establish an irreversible eight-point lead over Pools.
And, in an exclusive interview with SportMail, Green has pinpointed the 3-0 reverse at Boundary Park on March 19 as the match which cost the club their third-tier status.
“We lost it at Oldham - that was our cup final,” the Pools chief said today.
“We never turned up that night.
“Had we won that game then I believe we would have stayed up - it was a six-point swing.
“If we had won we would have been one point ahead of them going into last night.
“But it has not been good enough over the whole season to be honest.”
The performance Green highlights drew criticism from manager John Hughes at the time, the Scot accusing his players of having let the club down.
They had previously embarked on a seven-match unbeaten run to give themselves a realistic chance of escaping relegation, having resided in the drop zone since late September.
And Green reflected: “The season changed in January when we had to change the team because of an injury to our striker (Steve Howard).
“We changed the formation and things picked up, we got ourselves right back in it.
“We had looked good and played some decent sides off the park.
“But then we went and blew it at Oldham.”