Michael Duckworth says Hartlepool United cannot afford any more slow starts.
Pools were beaten by late goals in each half as their undefeated start to the season was brought to a halt at Stevenage.
If we’d started the game brightly, I think it would have been a different story.
But the team’s longest-serving player says Pools did not aid their cause by being on the backfoot from the first whistle at Broadhall Way.
“There’s a bit of frustration from this game,” said the 23-year-old.
“We didn’t start well and we have to start well as we aren’t good enough to turn it on when we feel like it it, it’s got to be all the time.
“If we’d started the game brightly, I think it would have been a different story.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t start as we should have and we were on the bus for the first half.
“We need to start bright.
“If we start well and play like we can then teams can’t live with us in the final third with the football we play.”
Pools were beaten by a Fraser Franks header on the stroke of half-time before being put out out of it by Brett Williams following keeper Chris Day’s long punt two minutes from the end.
Ronnie Moore’s side, who had started the campaign with four straight wins, had Stevenage under pressure but could not capitalise on their possession.
Duckworth hopes to see Pools respond positively against Bournemouth tomorrow night in the Capital One Cup and, more crucially, against winless Carlisle on Saturday in League Two.
“The last 20 minutes we were on top and they were just happy to clear it anywhere and everywhere really,” he said.
“Then we have been done by a sucker punch to kill us off.
“We’ll go again in the Capital One Cup, but the main focus is Saturday when the league comes back.
“It’s only one defeat from five this season, which is a record we can be happy with after where we were last year.”
Duckworth is now one of the ‘old hands’ in the team as he starts his third season at the Vic.
The Colin Cooper signing says current boss Moore has recruited well to put together a vibrant new squad.
“We are a different team from where we were last year,” he said. “Hopefully we are going in the right direction.”