Craig Hignett apologised to Hartlepool United’s fans who sat through Saturday’s inept display at Stevenage.
Only captain Billy Paynter acknowledged the supporters at the final whistle before Hignett directed ALL the players towards the away end and joined them to clap the Poolies who had made the journey to Broadhall Way.
They deserved to be applauded for the miles they do and the support they give.
“We had to,” explained the manager. “What we got back from the fans we deserved.
“It’s never easy in that situation but we had to show our appreciation.
“They travel in their numbers, week-in, week-out and seeing a performance like that is gutting for everyone.
“The fans will be disappointed and they will shout at you, but you have to take it.
“They deserved to be applauded for the miles they do and the support they give.”
A couple of fans clapped back but Hignett conceded that Pools warranted no applause.
“It was painful to watch,” he said. “That was unrecognisable from the team and we have had words in the dressing room.
“But what can I say after that? It was embarrassing, I’m struggling to find the words to sum it up.”
Pools led in the fourth minute from Nathan Thomas’s first goal of the season but Stevenage turned the match around with goals by Tom Pett and Tyler Walker before the interval.
Four goals followed in a dreadful second period.
“We go in front and we should push on,” said Hignett.
“I thought Stevenage were jittery having just conceded five last week at Grimsby and after that early goal I thought they could go.
“The start we had was perfect for us. But the goals we then conceded were embarrassing, not, two or three, but all six.
“They were all embarrassing, we cannot defend like schoolboys.
“Stevenage did not have to work for any of their goals.”