Gateshead manager Neil Aspin criticised his side’s “abject” defending after witnessing yet another defeat on home soil.
The Heed found themselves on the back foot after only four minutes against play-off hopefuls Braintree Town, Taylor Miles curling in a free-kick from 20 yards.
Skipper Ben Clark levelled for the home side with a close-range strike, but Miles restored the Iron’s advantage just two minutes later, slotting low beyond Sam Russell from distance.
Gateshead were left with a mountain to climb after James Curtis’ dismissal before the break, and Mitch Brundle duly added to Braintree’s lead early into the second-half.
Though defender Alex Whitmore reduced the arrears with his second goal for the club, the Tynesiders were unable to prevent a fourth-straight loss on their own patch.
Aspin felt that his side displayed spirit in the second-half, but was left to rue their defensive vulnerabilities once more.
He said: “The players gave their all, and they made a game of it with ten men, but I’m left with a similar feeling.
“We can’t defend properly. We give away soft goals, which shouldn’t be conceded. It’s not that the opposition are outplaying us – we give them goals, so we give ourselves a mountain to climb.
“It’s the same week in, week out – we’re chasing the game, which leaves us more exposed at the back.
“The season is over, and we want to get on with the next one. There’s no way to dress it up.
“We’ve conceded nearly 70 goals, and that’s what you’d expect from a team going down. I’m pleased we had a good run when I first took over, because we could have been in a relegation fight.
“If you give away goals, it drains confidence from the rest of the team.
“Coming out into the second-half, you have a plan to get back into the game, and it just goes out of the window.
“There was no reason to concede that third goal – I said at half-time, ‘if we don’t concede, we can get something from the game’.
“But then we go and concede within two minutes, and effectively that was ‘game over’.
“You’re saying the same old things, and I don’t want to be repeating myself, but it’s abject defending at home – and that’s the reason why we keep losing.
“If we play against a side and they’re better than us, I’ll hold my hands up.
“Braintree are having a great season, but had we done our jobs properly, we could have won the game today.”