Hartlepool United manager Kevin Phillips apologises to travelling fans after Pools trounced 7-1 by local rivals Gateshead

Hartlepool United manager Kevin Phillips blasted his side for letting the more than 1,300 supporters down as Pools suffered their heaviest defeat of the season, losing 7-1 at local rivals Gateshead on Tuesday evening.
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Pools were backed by an impressive travelling contingent of 1,314 fans - almost half the total number inside the Gateshead International Stadium - but the players were unable to repay their loyalty on an extremely difficult night for the club.

Gateshead, who move up to fourth in the National League table, were better than Pools in every department as the fans that made the trip along the A19 were subjected to a miserable performance, particularly in the second half.

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Phillips had challenged his side to make the travelling Poolies proud and the visitors made a bright start to the game, going ahead after just eight minutes when Joe Grey overcame some initial hesitation to score his 10th goal of the season from a tight angle.

Kevin Phillips apologised to the travelling fans after admitting his side let them down during their thrashing at GatesheadKevin Phillips apologised to the travelling fans after admitting his side let them down during their thrashing at Gateshead
Kevin Phillips apologised to the travelling fans after admitting his side let them down during their thrashing at Gateshead

However Pools were soon being forced onto the back foot and, after Luke Hannant equalised from the penalty spot midway through the first half, the visitors began to lose control of the contest.

Gateshead were unfortunate not to go in at the break ahead but didn't have to wait long after the restart, with Kieron Evans capitalising on a mistake from Tom Parkes to make it 2-1 in the 47th minute.

Thereafter Pools began to crumble, then collapse, and before long capitulate as the Heed, who had former Poolies Kenton Richardson in defence and Carl Magnay in the dugout, humbled the woeful travellers.

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A vastly-experienced back line had no answer for the extremely impressive teenager Dajaune Brown, whose brace means he has scored eight goals in his last seven games.

The midfield were unable to get close to Ed Francis, who was given far too much time and space to dictate the tempo, provided two wonderful assists and topped a stellar showing with a goal, while the marauding wing-backs were given the freedom of the GIS to cross and create at will.

It was the most difficult and disappointing night of a turbulent National League season for Pools, while it was surely the worst night of Kevin Phillips' fledgling managerial career.

And the Pools boss was all too aware that no one suffers more than supporters following a heavy defeat, especially to local rivals, and admitted he was embarrassed by his side's performance.

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"First and foremost, I apologise to the fans," he told BBC Radio Tees Sport.

"The players have let them down - we all have as a group.

"I tried to pick a side tonight that I thought would compete and was capable of getting a result.

"After the first five or 10 minutes, it looked like we were going to do that.

"Joe (Grey) gets a goal and then we concede a penalty, which happens.

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"We saw out the first half and, even though they dominated possession, we went in and regrouped.

"The manner in which we concede the second goal, we've got to do better.

"Still, at 2-1 we feel like we've got enough quality in the side to go and get a goal but then the third goes in, and then the fourth, the fifth.

"It just became embarrassing.

"I did not see that coming - I'm shell-shocked if I'm honest.

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"I have to give a lot of credit to Gateshead. Some of the football they played was magnificent.

"I don't want to be too harsh on the players, we have to pick ourselves up because we are in a position where we need two or three wins to secure safety and that's got to be our goal."

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