Captain Scott Brown branded Peterhead’s defending “embarrassing” after defeat to Montrose and says they need to sharpen up to stay out of relegation trouble.
The Blue Toon lost 4-3 to the Gable Endies at Links Park after a poor start in which they were three behind inside half an hour.
Clean sheets have been a rare commodity for the Buchan outfit this season and skipper Brown said: “We can’t let ourselves go 3-0 down to start with – the goals we conceded were embarrassing.
“After they scored the fourth, which was another terrible goal, we started to play and dominated the game from then on.
“Was there a lot in the game first half? Not really, but we didn’t play well and they took their chances.
“But we can’t concede goals like we did and expect to win games. It’s criminal and it’s killed us in too many games this season.
“We showed good spirit to fight back – but it’s easy to play at 4-1 down because you’ve got nothing to lose.
“The way we finished is how we should be starting games and we’re not going to get out of trouble if we concede more goals like that.
“We can’t afford to keep shipping goals and expect to get something from games.”
The result leaves Peterhead seventh in League 1, but just three points above Forfar in the relegation play-off spot with the Loons visiting Balmoor on Saturday.
Midfielder Brown added: “It’s a big game on Saturday against Forfar.
“I talked last week after beating Dumbarton about trying to put a run together for the promotion play-offs.
“But that’s gone. We’re in a relegation battle now and we need to liven up and get ourselves out of trouble.”
The Blue Toon fell behind after only 75 seconds, following a throw-in which the visitors felt should’ve been awarded their way. Graham Webster fed Cammy BALLANTYNE, who finished from 10 yards.
In the 15th minute Jason Brown and goalie Greg Fleming left Webster’s through-ball to each other and Blair LYONS nipped in to double the Angus side’s lead.
On 27 minutes it was 3-0 as LYONS got the better of Jamie Stevenson on the left side of the area and finished into the bottom-right corner.
Peterhead pulled one back just before half-time with Alan COOK’S 25-yarder beating keeper Aaron Lennox. But on the hour Matty ALLAN headed Montrose into a 4-1 lead from Webster’s delivery.
The Blue Toon responded with Derek LYLE heading home from Paddy Boyle’s long throw-in and with 10 minutes left captain BROWN fired in a third from 20 yards.
The visitors’ best chances of salvaging a point late on were a Jack Leitch shot over and a strong penalty claim that ref Graham Beaton turned down when Andrew Steeves appeared to handle another Leitch effort.
Peterhead boss Jim McInally said: “You can’t give away the goals we give away and expect to win.
“I’m pleased that we kept going and showed character – but defensively it just wasn’t good enough.
“It would have been really good if we’d got the penalty at the end.
“The Montrose player came in and said it was a penalty. It’s a handball all day, but you don’t win matches defending like that.”