MORTON manager Jonatan Johansson says he can’t shield his players from criticism anymore after admitting his side are ‘fighting for their lives’ following their defeat to Alloa Athletic.

The Ton’s relegation fears deepened after a 2-1 loss to the part-timers, as the scrap to avoid the drop got even tighter.

The Wasps moved off the bottom and are now just a point behind the Greenock side, who are in sixth place but just four points off the bottom.

Greg Kiltie had given the hosts the lead at Cappielow early in the second half, but Morton conceded just a few minutes later when Andy Graham capitalised on some slack defending in the box.

Jack Hamilton then bundled the ball in with 10 minutes to go, as Jim Goodwin’s side inflicted their third defeat on the Ton this season.

Johansson didn’t hold back on his assessment of the players, who are now without a win in their last six games and have won just three games in their last 19 outings, saying they lacked fight when they faced adversity.

He told the Tele: “I’ve tried so many times to protect the lads but the goals we lose are incredibly soft and it’s the same every week.

“We fight in the first half, we get the penalty in the second half and we go ahead and a minute later bad decision-making, poor defending and the second goal is just really really poor.

“Then we need to be fighting for our lives, and I didn’t see that from all of our players today.

“There were too many players hiding and just wanting to go through it, and when you’re in a dogfight that’s not what you should be doing.

“You should be fighting, you should be kicking the ball.

“It’s not pretty, we knew that, but being 1-0 up to crumble and lose two goals is hard to take.”

The Ton had games in hand over their opponents at the bottom in the last few weeks, but losses to two teams below them, while drawing away to Queen of the South and Ayr United have pulled them right into a relegation battle.

Johansson says there are only so many chances his players can have with four games left to go in the league if his side are to avoid relegation to League One.

He added: “There’s a reason for us struggling in recent week and it’s a little bit of softness from our players.

“We’ve been in good positions in the league for many weeks and they’ve had their chances to climb out of it and now we’re right in it.

“Alloa were fighting for their lives, they were confident and were getting the balls into the box and behind us as much as they could and we needed to defend it better.”