Exeter manager Matt Taylor said his players must take responsibility as the Grecians saw their hopes of making the players suffer a setback with a 3-1 home defeat to struggling Crawley.
After an insipid first quarter, two goals in seven minutes from Filipe Morais and Reece Grego-Cox put Crawley 2-0 up and leave Exeter shell-shocked.
A rousing start to the second half saw Ryan Bowman reduce the arrears, but hopes of a comeback were ended when Crawley countered and Reece-Cox scored his second of the afternoon to complete the scoring.
“Goals affects this group of players and I have to be honest, there’s a weakness about us because the first goal affects us and we go into our shell and start doing the wrong things,” an unhappy Taylor said.
“As much as you can try and help them from the side of the pitch, the players have to stand up and take responsibility.
“We are never always going to be in the lead at home, but we made that mistake (for the first goal) and the group needed to come together after that. We didn’t do that and we paid the price for it.
“I give my defence enough stick, but you can’t miss chances like that at the other end of the pitch. We were creating them time and time again and that’s the most disappointing thing.
“Like I’ve said, I talk enough about our defenders and our weaknesses at times, we made two mistakes out there in terms of the first and third goals, but the rest of the group have to take responsibility.
“If you are on the pitch to score goals, score the easy goals as well. We all talk about the goal last week and the goal of the season campaign, but you want numbers and stats to back yourself up as a player.”
Crawley head coach Gabriele Cioffi was delighted with the performance of his side, which secured their place in League Two for next season.
“It was important for us to come back with three points. Exeter have got a strong squad, play good football and had several chances,” he said.
“Today we showed compactness and we were more clinical. It was an open game and I enjoyed it.
“It was important, I am happy for him (Reece Grego-Cox) and pleased for all the squad. We deserved it.
“The third goal was good timing. We were direct and we managed the ball well. I am proud of the boys.
“Now the most important thing is we rest today and tomorrow we start increasing the adrenaline for the game on Monday. It is important to finish the season with our chin up.”