NICKY Featherstone was at a loss to explain why Hartlepool United continue to shoot themselves in the foot with poor second-half displays.
Pools had held their own against high-flying Burton Albion until the 45th minute, when Alex MacDonald took advantage of a Matthew Bates mistake to finish with aplomb.
The message at half-time was to stay in the game as long as possible and catch Albion on the break.
Yet within 22 second of the re-start Pools were 2-0 down after MacDonald grabbed his second of the match.
Featherstone was left baffled as to why his side continue to start the second-half of matches so poorly.
“I thought we were pretty comfortable until the 44th minute,” said the 26-year-old.
“A couple of mistakes - and a great finish - have cost us and we went from going in at half-time looking solid to going in trailing.
“Then to concede so soon after the break, it was always going to be tough against a top four team.
“We’d spoken at half-time of staying in the game as long as we could and then counter attacking and getting a goal ourselves.
“Yet we conceded really quickly.
“Whether that is down to a lack of confidence or concentration, we have been doing it a lot recently and we have to stop doing that.
“For whatever reason, since I have been here - the last six or seven weeks - we have been pretty good in the majority of the first half performances.
“Then for some reason we seem to be losing games in the first ten to fifteen minutes of the second half.
“It makes it very difficult to get anything from games.”
Featherstone said the players had no excuses for defeat adding they had enjoyed a good week under caretaker boss Sam Collins at Maiden Castle, in Durham.
The midfielder, who has struggled to stamp his authority on matches in recent matches, said Collins had looked to keep spirits up following the sacking of Paul Murray after just 45 days in charge.
Featherstone, who was Murray’s first signing, added: “Sam has come in and has kept it upbeat.
“It had been a good week in training and we had prepared for the game as well as anyone.
“We knew everything about Burton and the way we wanted to play.
“For 44 minutes we stuck to the game plan yet one lapse of concentration and we are a goal down.
“We had taken a lot of positives from the first-half and I thought we deserved to be at least level.
“But it is always tricky when you are chasing a game because then they can look to pick you off and we never really dealt with their front two.
“They were playing it into Jacob Blyth and Stuart Beavon played well off him.
“We couldn’t handle them two second-half,” added the former Hull City, Walsall and Scunthorpe United midfielder.
- RICHARD MENNEAR