Manager Ollie Drake questioned the passion of his Godmanchester Rovers players after their perfect start to the season was brought to an end.
Drake was unhappy with the manner of a 3-1 home reverse at the hands of Histon in a Friday clash between two clubs tipped to challenge for Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title glory.
He accused his team, who had won their three previous matches (two in the league and one in the FA Cup), of not caring as much as their visitors who triumphed courtesy of two second-half goals following a deadlock in the opening 45 minutes.
“Histon won the game because they had more heart and cared a lot more than we did in the second half and I can’t condone that,” said Drake.
“They are not things we can coach. They have to be there from the players and the manner in which we lost the game has really hurt.
“We were not beaten by a better team – just one that wanted it more – and we would have lost more heavily were it not for my goalkeeper. We cannot be a luxury team who go hiding when the going gets tough.
“The club has really gone the extra mile to enable me to not only keep but also add to the squad that did so well last season.
“They have also thrown in a few other little extra incentives for the lads, while our main sponsor has bought two complete playing kits and warm-up tops to make sure everyone looks the part.
“We’re certainly not going to panic after losing the third league game of the season, but I’m extremely disappointed in what I saw in that second half.”
Rovers weren’t helped by the dismissal of substitute Ben Yeomans for violent conduct during a second half to forget.
Yeomans retaliated by shoving Histon defender Jamie Chivers after being on the receiving end of a crude tackle.
And while Drake accepted his player had to be dismissed, he felt Chivers should also have been shown red.
“We have to be provided with officials who are capable of controlling games at this level of football,” added Drake.
“I’m not going to say too much on the matter, but there were two very dubious goals – one for each team - in the first half and I will never understand how the Histon player was not sent off in the second half.
“Ben knows he has done wrong by raising his hands and pushing an opponent, but his leg is covered in stud marks from a terrible tackle.”
But the Rovers boss is now anxious to draw a line under the Histon defeat. His focus is on ensuring his players produce an instant response in another important Friday fixture as they head to fellow Premier Division side Thetford in the preliminary round of the FA Cup.
“We have to get over the defeat to Histon as quickly as possible,” continued Drake. “We go straight into another big game and we need to ensure we show the fight that was lacking last Friday.
“We all know the importance of the FA Cup to clubs at our level because of the financial rewards it can bring.
“We also know the excitement it creates for players and supporters, and we need to make sure we produce the right performance at Thetford to keep our run going.”