"FULL of disappointment and anger" was how Essendon coach Mark Thompson described his emotions after the Bombers went down to Geelong by nine points in a thriller at Etihad Stadium. 

He bemoaned the team's inability to protect the nine-point lead established early in the final quarter after kicking six unanswered goals from half-time.

It was, Thompson said, the third time this season the Bombers had lost after leading with just minutes remaining. 

"After a while, it just gets you," Thompson said. 

Although Essendon looked to be running over the top of Geelong the coach said he could see warning signs midway through the final term. 

He noted the space that was opening up in Geelong's half of the ground and that made the Bombers vulnerable to opposition counter-attacks. 

That his instinct was proved right in the end was no comfort. 

"[It was] hard work to get them back into the game, hard work to get in front and then it seemed relatively easy to lose it, " Thompson said. 

He attributed Essendon's inability to defend its leads to a lack of defensive pressure. 

"It cost us against at the end, our openness cost us, our dumbness but anyway ... s**t happens," Thompson said. 

He paid tribute to midfielder Dyson Heppell, who led the third-quarter revival with 11 disposals, and almost single-handedly turned the Bombers' 29-point half-time deficit into a lead at the final change. 

"'Hepps' [Heppell] stood up. He continually plays well – solid, consistent football that is good to watch," Thompson said. 

The coach said he simplified the message at half-time, ensuring players knew exactly who they were playing on and brought it back to being "an old-fashioned stoush." 

The players took heed and played a third quarter that Thompson said was terrific, the way he wanted to see the Bombers play. He described it as "perfect play". 

He hoped it wasn't the case that the team only turned it on when it seemed to be trailing and said they needed to be ready to go when the siren went if they wanted to become a team that made preliminary finals and Grand Finals. 

"It's a skill thing, it's a trait, it's a habit, it's a culture," Thompson said. "To be good in this business you have got to be absolutely ready to play when the siren [goes]." 

The former Cats coach forgave ex-Geelong champion Paul Chapman (11 disposals, no goals) for a quiet game, saying it was hard to imagine what it must be like to play against a club that had been such a key part of your career.  

"Even while he was playing he probably would have thought about the whole Geelong thing and players and 'what is he doing playing against this team?' It's hard for players to play against their old club," Thompson said. 

Thompson said he had asked the players whether they had watched the club's Federal Court proceedings against ASADA earlier that day and was pleased to hear that none of them had tuned in.   

"They knew they were playing a game and the best preparation would be to try to not get distracted. I'm glad they didn't watch," Thompson said. 

Essendon faces Port Adelaide next week in Adelaide and Thompson agreed the team's season was on the line.