RICHIE Barker reckons his Bury side were punished for their naivety as much as any lack of concentration or desire as their winless run stretched to seven matches.
More worrying for the Bury manager is just one clean sheet from the last 14 matches and goals drying up at the other end.
Barker had warned of a backlash from his old club, who were thrashed 5-0 at Wycombe at the weekend, and his prediction proved correct as a goal in each half from Ritchie Humphreys and Adam Boyd consigned Bury to a disappointing defeat.
The excellent David Worrall pulled one back with 12 minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish, but, as has been the case recently, the Shakers left it too late to up their game.
“It may be a lack of desire or concentration, but I think there is an element of naivety,” said Barker. “I’ve told the lads that as much as people want to come and watch us play good football, they also want to come and watch us win football matches. At the end of the day, you get judged on results.
“At the moment, we are too easy to score against and we are not on the front foot in the opposing 18-yard box either.”
The Shakers seemed short of ideas in the opening half, managing only two shots at goal, while Neale Cooper’s men kept Trevor Carson the busier of the two goalkeepers.
By contrast to Bury’s jittery defending, Pools were well marshalled at the back by 34-year-old Sam Collins, who spent three years with the Shakers from 1999 until 2002.
It took 36 minutes before the home side got their first shot, from midfielder Giles Coke, whose effort was saved by Hartlepool keeper Scott Flinders.
David Worrall followed Coke’s example and warmed the fingers of Flinders with a left foot volley from the edge of the area four minutes later.
But Hartlepool took a deserved lead after Neil Austin swung in one of many dangerous crosses from the right for Humphreys to glance his header past Trevor Carson on the stroke of half time.
Cooper’s side might have gone ahead in the second minute when Austin’s cross was headed just wide by Antony Sweeney.
The game yielded its first corner in the 29th minute and, when it did, Hartlepool’s Peter Hartley was allowed a free header at the back post before Carson made a fine save.
Carson was again required to turn Andy Monkhouse’s long distance shot over in the 35th minute.
Bury improved after the interval with captain Steven Schumacher blazing over on 52 minutes and planting a free kick just the wrong side of Flinders’ post on the hour.
Worrall forced another save from Flinders on 66 minutes, but seven minutes later Bury were 2-0 down when they allowed substitute Boyd to turn inside the box before slotting the ball past Carson.
When Worrall latched on to Joe Skarz’s long pass and lobbed Flinders to pull one back, Bury flooded forward in search of an equaliser, but Hartlepool hung on despite the introduction of new American forward Mike Grella late on.
BURY: Carson 7, Picken 6, Hughes 6, Eastham 6, Skarz 7, Schumacher 6, Coke 6 (Amoo 6), Carrington 8 (John-Lewis 6), Elford-Alliyu 6, Bishop 6 (Grella 7), Worrall 8. Unsused subs: Branagan, Sweeney.
HARTLEPOOL: Flinders 6, Austin 8, Collins 7, Horwood 6, Humphreys 7, Brown 6 (Boyd 7), Monkhouse 7, Sweeney 7, Baldwin 6, Murray 6, Hartley 7.
Unused subs: Nish, Haslam, Rafferty, Johnson.
Referee: Robert Lewis.
Attendance: 2,072 (130 visiting).