Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft apologised to supporters for his team's dreadful first half defending that saw them 4-1 down at the break in today's thrilling 4-3 home defeat by Crewe.
Half-time substitutes Ricky Miller and Danny Rose sparked a brave fightback that fell just short.
But Flitcroft was shocked by his side's dithering defending in a dire first 45 minutes.
“I can only apologise for the first half,” he said, as Stags went an eighth game without victory.
“The difference in the two halves is inexplicable. We capitulated first half and then absolutely dominated second half.
“Our supporters are from a hard-working town and pay good money to come and watch football.
“We have let them down in that first half with a lack of fight, a lack of spirit and a lack of defensive responsibility.
“There was no pride in that first half performance. It was a shameful performance from us all.
“We injected some enthusiasm through Ricky Miller and Danny Rose and through sheer willpower, enthusiasm and desire they changed the course of the second half.
“But it was too little too late. I need to understand why they started as they did and carried it for 30 minutes – that's where this game was lost.”
He added: “We did try to salvage something and all credit to the players second half for rallying round. But we shouldn't be 'rallying round' against any team, and not against Crewe.
“If we followed the game plan and got on top of them, as we did second half, dominating them and making them make errors, you can really infiltrate them and score goals.
“From the work we did on the training ground I didn't see that coming.”
Stags' defenders took the brunt of Flitcroft's anger and skipper Zander Diamond was taken off after only 31 minutes.
“I can't justify what I saw from the two centre halves, two players who have played a lot of games,” he said.
“You get yourselves organised. We defended horribly and didn't protect Conrad Logan today.
“The players have opened up and caved in and left Conrad exposed.
“The fans turned up again and backed us a million per cent again and we've let them down.
“You saw in the second half they were fighting for a cause and the pride of the town. But that has to be for 90 minutes.”
Stags now head for Stevenage on Tuesday night, two points off the play-offs with five games to go.