Broadbridge Heath manager Steve Painter says he and his players will be doing plenty of soul searching the week after hitting his lowest ebb at the club on Saturday.
The Bears crashed to a shock 4-0 defeat at the hands of Eastbourne United, who continued to climb the table under new boss Toby Hutchinson.
Although it was only Heath’s second defeat in nine league matches - the other coming against leaders Newhaven, Painter pulled no punches in assessing the performance.
He said: “There are absolutely no excuses and you cannot make any. It was a bit of a shock to me but didn’t come completely out of the blue, we were just poor all-round.
“All over the park we were poor. We have had some indifferent results this season and won or drawn games in theory we should not have won and gone and lost to sides that we should have been beating. It was creeping up on us last week in the Hassocks games.
“We have got to look internally, all over the squad and the management team to reflect on what is going wrong. Saturday was probably my lowest time at Broadbridge Heath - I was numb after that game and I questioned myself for the first time really.
“It sounds like I am being harsh, but probably I am being kind to be honest - it was really that poor.”
Heath have Saturday off before returning to action on Tuesday night at home to high flying Eastbourne Town in the RUR Cup.
Painter added: “We all collectively, including me and my management team, need to have a look at ourselves and have a stark reality check.
“We’ve been punching well above our weight and have worked hard as a football club, but it was bound to come sooner or latter. I know 100 per cent, having spoke to the players, that we will bounce back and we certainly need a reaction.”
With Michael Chester suspended, there was a league debut for former Three Bridges Academy’s Stuart Goodwin, while youngster Ronnie Burchell started on the bench, who along with Stuart Chester, were the only players to receive praise from Painter.
After a scrappy first half, the home side took the ascendency and in the last six minutes, Heath failed to clear their lines and Tom Saunders hit an unstoppable 25 yarder into the top corner.
Scott Weller and Jamie Robinson suffered injuries almost simultaneously and had to be replaced, then, with the last kick of the half, Dean Stevens buried a low drive through a crowd of players into the bottom corner.
Heath started the second half with more purpose and on 64 minutes Merv Bhujun burst through the home defence. The Eastbourne keeper managed to push the ball away from him and as Tim Martin side footed towards the empty net, a defender got back to clear the ball off the line.
Two minutes later, Saunders cleverly chipped the ball over the impressive Stuart Chester and ran on to give Goodwin no chance.
Heath never recovered and an unfortunate own goal when Andy Howard attempted a headed clearance summed up the day for the Bears as United leapfrogged them in the table.
Heath: Goodwin, Wicking, Robinson (Moore), Chester, Howard, Waddingham, Mutangi (Burchell), Godfrey, Andrade, Bhujun, Weller (Martin).
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