A SCATHING Bryan Hughes didn't hold back after witnessing the worst performance of his short reign as manager.

Wrexham saw their promotion hopes dented after losing 1-0 at Hartlepool on Saturday, a 25th minute converted penalty leading to a third defeat in four National League outings.

The Reds, still third in the table but having played more games than any of their rivals in the top seven, offered very little going forward and Hughes cut a frustrated figure at the final whistle.

"We weren’t good enough if I am being totally brutally honest," said Hughes.

"I’ve said to the players in there, this one hurts more than Barrow for me; you can use excuses about Barrow even though I didn’t like to, the conditions were a big element and individual errors cost us the game, but his one we made Hartlepool look good and that disappoints me.

"I don’t want any of my teams making opposition teams look good, that is not the way I want to manage a team, today we did at times.

"We were second best and that is the harsh reality of it, the players need to look at themselves and stand up, they have got to be counted.

"I mentioned last week that it is still fresh in their minds from last year, what happened when we threw it away in the last 10 games, there has been a bit of a stutter of late but now it is my job to sort it out."

Wrexham were well placed but failed to make the play-offs last season following a woeful run-in after Dean Keates left to take charge of Walsall.

Hughes, who was hoping to build on last Saturday's win over Maidstone, is determined to ensure lightening doesn't strike twice but knows a big improvement is needed from his side.

"I hope it is not, but if we keep putting performance in like that then potentially it is," said Hughes.

"The quicker we get it out of the players, especially the players who were here last season, the better.

"We’ve got to regroup, refocus our attentions. It was a good opportunity for us today to stamp our authority back on the league, especially with Orient not playing, Fylde not playing, Solihull having a tough game.

"I was really proactive this week trying to build that confidence from last week and trying to put in a performance to get the right result here, but the performance wasn’t there, we had too many in the shadows, and we gifted them a silly penalty."

Victory would have taken third placed Wrexham top of the table, with leaders Orient on FA Trophy duty and Solihull losing at Halifax.

Wrexham have six games remaining and Hughes refuses to give up on automatic promotion.

"Points on the board is the main thing to have at this stage, Orient have got a lot of catching up to do with regards to their games and the fatigue factor of that, so we are not giving up on it, that would be wrong to do that," said Hughes

"We’ve had a massive stumble at Hartlepool, it has hurt me, but it is about bouncing back.

"We did it against Maidstone, it is about getting the right formula, and right personnel and getting the right people out on that pitch who know their roles and responsibilities, and they can take it into each game and know every minute of every game is vital, especially at this stage of the season.

"We were lacking in concentration levels right the way through.

"Of course, I am a very positive manager, I am going to try and be as positive as I can.

"The positive today, I thought Anthony Spyrou came on and did well, he was a threat, so there are certain little positives I will take and work on next week and try to get that positive back into the players to get a performance and result next weekend."