Sittingbourne manager Darren Blackburn reminded the players of his expectations following their weekend defeat.
The Brickies conceded a last-minute winner to Phoenix after Harrison Pont was sent off, losing 2-1.
But it was arguably a poor first-half performance that frustrated Blackburn more than anything and he stressed the need to deliver more than 90 minutes before Isthmian South East’s home game against Hythe on Saturday.
“We can’t be a 45-minute side,” said Blackburn, after his side fell seven points behind the play-off peloton.
“The absolute basic expectation of any manager is to run and work hard and then things happen for you.
“Flair, talent, quality, ability all come naturally if you work hard.
“If you don’t do the basics and make bad decisions you will lose against any team and the way we played in the first half we would have struggled against an average Sunday morning team, without missing of respect.
“Thanks to Phoenix, they played well, but we just weren’t there.
“They’re bottom of the league but they’ve been in good form under Steve O’Boyle so there’s definitely been no complacency on my part.
“It was a big part of my team talk, but we seemed to go through the motions in the first half.
“If we had gone there and imprinted ourselves on the game, maybe we could have gotten a result.
“I gave them an almighty boost at half time and the positive I take is that I had a response because we played really well in the second half but then Harrison showed a bit of petulance and was sent off and we conceded a sloppy winner.
Blackburn say defender Pont will learn from his second red card of the season, which left him facing a four-game ban.
“It’s a David Beckham-like, World Cup-like movie, totally unremarkable,” Blackburn said.
“He told me their player was standing on his hand, so I understand why he reacted, but you can’t do that.
“He has to learn from that and, to be fair, he apologized after the game.
“We stopped being in control and then the tide turns back.
“Give any team a sniff and there isn’t a manager in this league who won’t smell blood and see an opportunity to win a game.”
Ahmed Abdulla canceled out Wale Odedoyin’s first-half goal, but ex-Brickie Josh Dorling won it for Phoenix at the death.
Duane Ofori-Acheampong is back at Hungerford after two months on loan at Sittingbourne.
He scored five times in his first month and as the goals dried up in his second month, the big forward was missed in Phoenix.
“He was happy to stay, but the Hungerford manager wanted him back,” Blackburn said.
“I respect that and thank him for the two months we had with him.
“I was hoping we wouldn’t miss him, but on reflection he would have taken any of the chances we had.
“He is the one who has been playing in the center for five, six, seven weeks and he would have a little more confidence in front of goal than the others.”
There is good news on the injury front for Sittingbourne with defensive midfielder Harry Miller back in training for the first time this season.
The Brickies host Burgess Hill in a rearranged game on Tuesday.