SHELL-SHOCKED Michael Duckworth says “sloppy goals” cost Hartlepool United dear after being beaten 4-2 at home by Mansfield Town.
Colin Cooper’s side had gone into the break at Victoria Park level at 1-1 and should have been ahead but for a missed penalty from Marlon Harewood.
The defender, who was last night playing in an advanced right-wing role after returning from injury, said the belief in the dressing was that Pools would go on to win, especially given they were previously unbeaten in five at home.
Luke James did give then them that 2-1 lead, within seven minutes of the re-start, but it all went wrong after that – conceding three in the last 20 minutes to all but end their already slim play-off hopes.
Duckworth though, while admitting the players were left floored by the result, is still not giving up on a top seven finish.
“I don’t think the lads saw that result coming,” said the 21-year-old.
“We have conceded sloppy goals and that is not like us, especially at home.
“We don’t like to concede those type of goals and we had been doing well as a back four, with the clean sheets we have had recently so that result was just really disappointing.
“Scotty [Flinders] has misread one of their goals and the third one was off-side – even though Oliver Palmer hadn’t touched it he was blocking Scotty’s view.
“The referee wasn’t sure and had to ask the linesman but I don’t think it should have been given.
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“The lad [Matt Rhead] headed it from at least 10 yards out and the other guy has turned, gone to swing but missed the ball and that put Scotty off.
“It has to be classed as offside.
“The feeling in the dressing room at half-time was that if we could get the second then I think we would have gone onto comfortably win but it didn’t work out that way.
“The play-offs are not over, we are still in with a shout, and we have seven games left and we just have to take everyone as it comes.
“Saturday [at home to Cheltenham Town] is another one at home and hopefully we can win and then kick on from there.”
Duckworth, who was fouled for the missed Harewood penalty, insisted it was a definite foul despite pleas from the Mansfield defenders that he had dived.
But it wasn’t too long before they did have the lead, thanks to James superbly finishing from a defence-splitting Brad Walker pass.
“It was a great finish from Luke to put us 2-1 up,” said Duckworth.
“Me and Jordy [Jordan Richards] were screaming at Brad because we were on the overlap and there was three of us queuing up.
“But Brad played a wonderful pass into Luke who then scored and he does that every day in finish, we don’t expect anything less from him really.
“They then built a bit of pressure after they equalised.”