BOSS Paul Cox expressed his ‘hatred’ for certain elements of the Barrow AFC set-up after watching his team blow a 3-1 lead with six minutes remaining to lose against Tranmere.

Cox bemoaned a ‘poor mindset’ and a ‘soft underbelly’ after one of the most remarkable matches at Holker Street in years. The Bluebirds went 3-1 up in the 88th-minute when Andy Cook added to Jason Walker and Simon Grand’s earlier goals.

But instead of holding on for what seemed a certain victory, they conceded three times in the final six minutes to leave their manager aghast.

“We were 3-1 up in the 87th minute and totally in control of the game at that stage,” said a clearly disheartened Cox after the match. “I think the lack of application, the lack of discipline, the structural organisation that has done us so well of late, that went missing.

“I’ve spoken heavily to the boys since I came to the club about mindset. We’ve talked about what is needed not just to compete in the league, but to be successful. But the last 10 minutes was everything I dislike, I hate, about this place at the minute. There’s a soft underbelly and people switched off.

“I don’t want to be too hard, but I tell is as I see it. We shouldn’t have been in a position where we draw the game, never mind lose the game, when you’re leading 3-1 in the 87th minute.”

He added: “There are no excuses. It’s just not good enough, as simple as that. Since I have come in, I’ve used words like consistency, game management, mindset, desire, application and a lot of people probably have a giggle at the continuous use of them. But it builds a foundation of a strong group of players, or of people.

“That strong group of people, if there is that strength of mindset, wouldn’t have lost that game today, or even drawn it. They would have won it.

“We weathered parts of a storm in parts of the game where I don’t think we played particularly well, especially with the ball. We had an off day.

“We ground our way into a fabulous position and then stop doing what got us into that position in the first place. That is all about consistency, mindset, desire and hunger – all the words I’ve said.

“If you want to be champions, you need that 46 times a year. Every time you walk out there, you overcome the conditions, you overcome the opposition and you win more times than you lose that way.”

Cox, whose side sit 17th in the National League, having failed to win in their last four matches, faces some tough decisions over how to move forward. With AFC suddenly only six points clear of the relegation zone, he says he will not shy away from those choices as he tries to rebuild at Barrow.

“It’s a lack of mentality,” he said. “You walk into an environment and you have to understand I have got a job because another manager has just lost his job. That’s not very nice in any walk of life. When I walk into a dressing room after a manager has got the sack, there is a reason why he got the sack. That’s why I’ve been so analytical, why I’ve taken a back step with how I am as a person.

“I’ve been watching, I’ve been listening, I’ve been learning – that’s a big thing – about what the group is about and what is needed to take us forward.

“Even before coming to this game today, I was pretty sure about what was needed to take this club forward. Even if we had won the game, I think I still needed to act on certain things.

“That’s something I need to do now. I’ve had some constructive meetings with the chairman and the board and they are wholeheartedly behind me taking this club forward. To do that, I’ve got to make some hard decisions. It’s not very nice sometimes, but sometimes you’ve got to be like that to take the club forward. I’m willing to do that.”