Furious manager Matt Clements insists his St Neots Town players are in for a rude awakening following their latest Southern League Premier Division loss.

Depleted Saints suffered a fourth consecutive defeat when beaten 1-0 at Merthyr yesterday – the worst run of their boss' 15 months at the helm.

His side were caught cold (an appropriate description given the freezing conditions they encountered after a difficult 190-mile journey to Wales) when conceding the only goal after just 65 seconds as Jarrad Wright rose to head an Owain Jones cross past keeper Finlay Iron.

It was a setback from which they rarely looked like recovering. Saints were fortunate not to fall further behind in the opening moments of the second half as Iron superbly denied Kerry Morgan before Ian Traylor hit the crossbar from the resulting corner.

The woodwork came to Saints' rescue again late on as Merthyr substitute Jaye Bowen hit a post while Dion Sembie-Ferris volleyed over the visitors' best chance of snatching a point.

Saints' only substitute, Scott Sinclair, was also a whisker away from meeting a Johnny Herd cross, but Clements was left to reflect on a third blank during their losing slump.

Clements said: “We've had bad luck with the amount of injuries and illness which have all come at once, but I'm also quite embarrassed after this game. It's left me a bit numb.

“We were again lacklustre in front of goal and, for the first time in a long time, I have had to question the desire and ability of some players to improve.

“Merthyr played with an aggression that we lacked and could easily have scored three or four goals whereas I doubt we'd have managed a goal if we had played unopposed.

“I take responsibility as I lead the team, but the style and manner I do that in will now change as it is clear that an air of comfort and casualness has crept in.

“I can only apologise to the fans for that as they have been short-changed in the last few weeks. I can assure them that the squad are in for a reality check from training on Tuesday onwards.”

Clements handed a debut to Dan Buddle at Merthyr and praised the contribution of the youngster. He also gave Jonny Butler a first start for 11 months.

Fellow midfielder Kyran Wiltshire returned from suspension, but player-coach David Bridges was unavailable and defender Liam McDevitt has now been added to a lengthy injury list.

St Ives Town saw another home match fall victim to the weather. Their clash with Chesham at ProEdge Westwood Road was postponed.