NOT even a rare goal from Ritchie Humphreys could save Hartlepool United from back-to-back reserve-team defeats.
The Pools club captain had put Michael Barron’s second string ahead at Oldham Athletic in the Central League only for the Latics to shoot home either side of the interval.
Despite going down at Chapel Road, at least Pools had improved on the abject reserve showing against Chesterfield at Billingham where the Spireites won 4-0.
“It was better in parts,” Barron told SportMail. “But they had two chances and scored two goals.
“We created more opportunities and should have scored more.
“But I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the younger lads.
“And the determination to win the headers and tackles was not as strong as Oldham.
“But this is a young group of pros compared to the last couple of seasons when we had five or six with that little bit more experience.
“They make what I would best describe as questionable decisions at times, whether it’s on or off the ball.
“But this is part of their development as young professionals and it’s something they need to improve quickly.”
On the plus side, at least midfield men Humphreys and Simon Walton, who will both be involved in the League One trip to Bournemouth is weekend, got a full 90 minutes under their belts.
And from reserve team coach Barron’s perspective there are some aspects to build on which perhaps you could not have said after the home thumping by Chesterfield.
Pools began the brighter of the two teams yesterday at Oldham’s training HQ, with Walton and teenager Luke James at the heart of their play.
And James was involved as Pools took the lead on 11 minutes.
Young Australian Liam Jacob made a good save to deny James a goal but the ball popped out to Humphreys with the Pools player of the century applying a cool left-foot finish into the corner of the teenager’s net.
It was the least Pools deserved for some lively play with Nathan Luscombe, Walton and triallist Joe Tait all bringing saves out of former Liverpool and Manchester United trainee Jacob.
But no second goal came and Oldham pulled level before half-time.
Pools gifted the Lancashire outfit possession on half-way and David Mellor brought the ball forward before unleashing a 25-yard shot which was deflected past the unfortunate Adam McHugh.
If there was a little bit of bad luck involved in the equaliser the same could not be said of the winner after the break.
Chris Sutherland was allowed to run from the right wing across to the left before firing his shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Humphreys almost added a second and Jordan Richards headed over the bar but Pools could not find the net.
Oldham Athletic: Jacob, Jones, Truelove, Nelson, Belezika, Clarke, Sutherland, Mellor, Taylor, Baxter, Hughes
Pools: McHugh, Richards, Tait, Johnson, Holden, Rowbotham (Hedley), Walton, Humphreys, Luscombe, James, Rutherford
Subs Not Used: Hawkins, Buddle, Green