Craig White revealed his disappointment in Hampshire’s bowling attack after they handed the initiative to Essex at Chelmsford.
The hosts reached stumps on day two of the County Championship division one clash on 363 for six.
Varun Chopra struck 61 at the top of the order but the innings was built around a superb century from Dan Lawrence (114 not out).
With Ryan ten Doeschate (55) and former Hampshire wicketkeeper Adam Wheater (52) compounding the misery, it was a tough day for the visitors.
Only Kyle Abbott (three for 58) emerged with any great credit, while Liam Dawson (one for 56) and Ian Holland (one for 65) kept things tight for periods.
But after the opening day of the fixture was washed out, White felt the performance of his troops was well below par.
The first-team coach said: ‘It was a disappointing day really. It is a low, slow pitch with a little bit of nibble and I think they scored too many.
‘On that pitch you should never go above three-and-a-half-an-over max. When we did do that we picked up wickets.
‘I thought Ian Holland, Kyle Abbott and Dawse did a decent job but we just weren’t with it. Over the whole day I don’t think we got as many balls in the right areas as we should have done.
‘We did in patches – there were a few good hours scattered around the day.
‘But there were some really poor hours. We didn’t string a whole session together.
‘They played well and adapted to the conditions.
‘They were conscious of getting forward and batting out of their crease.
‘They did that very well and made it hard for us to get them out leg before wicket or bowled.
‘It’s that type of wicket. But we weren’t on top of our game.’
Hampshire now have two days to turn things around as they bid to secure their top-flight status.
The first goal on day three will be to wrap up the Essex innings as quickly as possible.
The visitors will then need to dig deep with the bat – although they have been boosted by the return of skipper James Vince, who was released by England.
White added: ‘We’re going to try to get another bowling point this morning – that’s one of our main objectives.
‘Then we will try to pick up batting points and get as many runs as possible.
‘They will try to get their maximum batting points and then have a go at us.’