Unprofessional and unacceptable. That was the assessment of Hartlepool United’s defensive performance in their 3-2 loss to 10-man Carlisle by boss Craig Hignett.
The manager refused to mince his words when looking back over the goals that cost Pools at the high-flying Cumbrians.
We have a charger on the end of the wall to close the ball down when it’s played short from the free-kick and he’s not done his job.
“At 1-1, I could not see them scoring, I thought we would have and won 2-1,” he said.
“To let in like we did when we know we (Michael) Raynes wants to go around the back or the middle of the goal and head the ball and for the free-kick we know Grainger and what he can do with his left foot.
“We have a man on the end of the wall who is supposed to charge it down, and he’s gone missing – it’s not professional or acceptable.
“We have set-pieces pinned up on the wall so everyone knows their job and what they are supposed to be doing.
“But for whatever reason they don’t end up doing them.”
Carlisle’s first came from a simple clearance up their left hand side, which caught every one of the Pools back four napping. Jabo Ibehre made no mistake.
And having just got themselves back in the game, the Blues’ second was no better from a Pools sense.
A lapse in concentration at a set-piece, which was poorly given away by Scott Harrison, allowed Danny Grainger, who is so often lethal from those positions, a free strike at goal from distance.
And the third, given what work had been put in on the training pitches by Hignett, was the hardest to swallow.
A corner from Pools’ right was flaoted in and met by the head of Michael Raynes, who statistically is the best header of the ball in an opposition box in League Two.
The fact every one of the defenders in Pools squad were made fully aware of his threat during drills on the Maiden Castle pitches in the week, makes this error almost inexcusable for Hignett.
It is an area which needs major improvement moving forward, according to the gaffer.
He said: “Two goals in the second half from set-pieces were massive errors.
“They have scored four of the last five from set-pieces and we went through their routines and plans in training on Friday for an hour and a half.
“They are trying to get the same person on the ball (for the free-kick) all the time and allow that to happen is criminal.
“We have a charger on the end of the wall to close the ball down when it’s played short from the free-kick and he’s not done his job.
“It seems every mistake is costing us at the minute and we said afterwards that we were the better side, but we need to win games.
“We have to look at it.”
Hignett was disappointed to see his side’s six game unbeaten stretch in the division come to an end, especially given that they scored two goals, yet again, away from the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.
“Away from home we have looked a decent side,” he said.
“We are not far away as a team, but need to cut out the basic mistakes.
“I’ve watched videos of Carlisle, we know what they want to do and we have prepared the lads every way possible, but they’ve not done their jobs.
“I felt we passed the ball really well, they were getting frustrated.
“We score goals away from home and how we have lost I do not know.”