Hartlepool United manager Kevin Phillips says his side were "outbattled" in their 3-1 defeat to Maidenhead United

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Hartlepool United manager Kevin Phillips said Maidenhead wanted it more than his side after Pools slipped to a 3-1 defeat in Berkshire on Tuesday evening.

Pools struggled to get to grips with the home side's prowess at set pieces, with Sam Barratt in particular bombarding the visitors with corners, free-kicks and long throws.

Pools survived a couple of early scares, notably when Pete Jameson did well to save Remy Clerima's header and when David Ferguson almost turned a Barratt free-kick into his own net, but went behind in the 14th minute after Casey Pettit struck following a knock-down from Will De Havilland.

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The visitors managed to stay in the game until half time, with Jameson saving from Barratt before the 28-year-old struck the post after picking Louis Stephenson's pocket after 41 minutes.

Kevin Phillips was unimpressed by his side's lacklustre display in Berkshire.Kevin Phillips was unimpressed by his side's lacklustre display in Berkshire.
Kevin Phillips was unimpressed by his side's lacklustre display in Berkshire.

The second half started in much the same vein but Pools bagged an equaliser against the run of play six minutes after the restart when great work from Louis Stephenson, who beat two Magpies defenders on the right flank before delivering a threatening cross into the box, resulted in Callum Cooke blasting a sweetly struck half-volley beyond Craig Ross to level the scores.

While the second half was certainly more even Pools were unable to really make the most of getting back into the game although Joe Grey went close when he was superbly denied by Kevin Lokko, who blocked his strike when he looked destined to score following a rare fluid move from the visitors.

Maidenhead fired a warning shot across the Pools' bow when substitute Shawn McCoulsky went through on goal with 17 minutes remaining, but his strike was straight at Jameson and the Harrogate loanee got a strong hand to it to turn it behind.

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However, the Magpies restored their lead two minutes later after another corner, Maidenhead's 12th of the game, was only half cleared before Sam Beckwith's shot from the edge was deflected past Jameson and in to make it 2-1.

With Pools mathematically assured of safety, the home side knew that a win would all but guarantee their own survival in the National League and Alan Devonshire's team made sure of a deserved three points when the influential Jayden Mitchell-Lawson's ball across the box was turned in by McCoulsky at the back post four minutes from time.

And Phillips was unimpressed by his side's lacklustre performance as a run of three games unbeaten came to an end at York Road.

"I thought, if I'm being honest, Maidenhead deserved it, so credit to them," he said.

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"We were outbattled tonight and, for me, that's disappointing.

"We've only won two games on a Tuesday night all season and it just highlights what I've said all along since I've been here, the fitness levels are not what I want.

"It doesn't matter what level you play at, or what team you play against, if you don't match them, if you don't win your duels and your battles, you'll get beat.

"We had a 10 minute spell after we got the equaliser but we never really controlled the football match.

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"We huffed and puffed, it's disappointing to come all this way and not get anything.

"We prepare as best as we can and then when that whistle goes it's over to the players.

"Too many of them didn't turn up and we've let ourselves down."

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