TOM Killick slammed his Poole Town team for an “atrocious, insipid and unforgivable” performance after they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at lowly Whitehawk.
Killick had urged his side to bounce back from their 3-0 Easter Monday reverse at Bath City by summoning a strong finish to their campaign.
Instead he saw Dolphins cast into the role of fall guys, as Whitehawk achieved the victory that secured their National South status for another season.
Midfielder Frankie Sutherland blasted home to break the deadlock on 14 minutes, with Alex Osborn pouncing to kill off the visitors midway through the second half.
Killick told the Daily Echo: “We were inept – we had no cutting edge and looked unsure of ourselves defensively. We just looked a shadow of what we were earlier in the season.
“This is the business end, where everything counts, the season-defining games and moments. And we were absolutely insipid in how we played, which is unforgivable with so much at stake.
“I think we registered our first real shot on target in the 85th minute. That says it all. We were atrocious really – we couldn’t put any passes together, we didn’t show any bravery when we had the ball and we didn't show any intensity to win it back when they had possession.”
Sutherland opened the scoring when he collected Osborn’s pass and took aim from 20 yards. The ball flew past helpless Poole 'keeper Nick Hutchings, who was soon back in the action, producing a double save from Glen Southam and Osborn to limit the first-half damage.
The visiting number one used his legs to save from Hawks’ former Peterborough striker Danny Mills shortly after the interval.
But Whitehawk had the two-goal cushion their dominance merited when Mills picked Will Spetch’s pocket to tee up Osborn for a simple finish.
Poole retain their two-point advantage over Hungerford, Dolphins' rivals for fifth spot, after the Berkshire team lost at Wealdstone. The club’s appeal against their expulsion from the play-offs, should they qualify, will be heard at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.
But Killick insists the uncertainty surrounding Poole's immediate future is not behind the team's recent dip.
"It’s mainly the fact we have a small squad – we have got a lot of tired legs and it is very hard to freshen things up," he added. "More importantly, I think it is confidence.
“In this league it is inevitable a team like us is going to have a bad run.
“If we can get in the play-offs, it becomes a whole different animal. We discovered that when we missed automatic promotion on the final day in the Southern Premier (in 2015).
“We went into the play-offs and were beaten.
“At the moment, I’m not considering the play-offs – it looks like we won’t even pick up another point, let alone beat Dartford. So, it’s all about sorting ourselves out and getting a result against Dartford.”
Dolphins: Hutchings, Tallack, Spetch (Granger, 68), Whisken, Smeeton, Pettefer (Gale, 90+1), Devlin, Burbidge, Cooper, Roberts, Brooks.
Unused subs: Richardson, Baggie, Rees (g/k).