A low Gary Charman admitted Horsham’s defeat to Ryman League South Division basement side Walton Casuals has set alarm bells ringing.
The recently-revived Gorings Mead visitors clinched a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night to go level on points with the Hornets at the foot of the table.
It means Horsham have now taken just 13 points from 18 games and remain eight points from safety, as well as third-from-bottom side East Grinstead.
To heap more misery on the strugglers, Charman, who has been one of Horsham’s sparks this season, badly pulled his hamstring in the clash and fears a long spell on the sidelines.
The player-manager’s assessment was frank as he admitted it was a ‘worrying’ blow in a game he expected to win.
He said: “We just didn’t play at all and it’s very, very disappointing. We didn’t get the ball down, didn’t get it out to the wide men, defensively we looked all over the place and the only time we looked like scoring was set-pieces, which is very unlike us.
“It’s usually the opposite. We look like we are going to score from open play but do not look like we are going to score from set-pieces, which was strange.
“There wasn’t enough fight and wasn’t enough spirit in the team and yes the best team lost on paper and player for player, but the right team won, who put in the most effort and had the most spirit so I wish them all the best. They deserved to win.
“Absolutely, it’s a worrying defeat. If we had played really, really well and got unfortunate, you look at it and say ok the result didn’t go well, but the performance was there. When both aren’t there, then yes, it’s a worrying result.
“Me personally, I am going to need some picking up as I have pulled my hamstring and it’s bad, so I am going to be out for a long time. The players are going to have to individually work on themselves. There is no bigger test than Saturday with Burgess Hill away.”
That will be no easy feat as the runaway Hillians, who beat Horsham 5-1 in the Robert Dyas League Cup last Wednesday, along with Premier League side Chelsea are the only two unbeaten league teams in Step 1 to 8 of the football pyramid.
Charman added: “Football changes very, very quickly. I thought we’d win today (Tuesday) and probably wouldn’t get anything on Saturday, but it just means on Saturday now we have to get something.
“Then we are still where I thought we would be after Saturday, so we have to go to Burgess Hill now and get something.
“Money hasn’t come into the club. Yes, obviously we are looking to strengthen where ever we can, but it will be one in one out, it won’t be three in none out, it will be player for player.”