‘If these lads aren’t questioning themselves, they are not what we want’ - that’s verdict of Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola in laying down the law to his players.
The Hornets boss pulled no punches in his analysis of their dismal Sussex Senior Cup defeat to division-lower Pagham on Tuesday night.
A 3-0 humbling at the hands of ten men saw Horsham crash out of the competition at the quarter-final stage and with it, the dreams of an Amex showpiece final.
While being mainly satisfied with their recent Bostik League South Division form - suffering just two defeats in six - Di Paola was left angry and upset by their cup exploits and was blunt in his attempts to challenge his players to respond.
He pointed to one of their worst-ever displays, saying: “I put it down to the players’ attitudes and approach to the game. A lot need to look at themselves, else they probably aren’t playing the right sport if they don’t.
“It has to change. It was as bad as we have ever been in my opinion. Regardless of a bad pitch and the fact Pagham were up for it, from one to 16 player-wise, it just was not good enough.
“I am down about the situation and I have come away hurt and questioning myself, but they need to question themselves as players and as men.
“If these lads aren’t questioning themselves, they are not what we want. If they don’t want to play to win, to improve and be better themselves, then they are not in the right place.
“We have no excuses. Against Greenwich Borough (Saturday’s 2-0 defeat), I could excuse the performance with the fact we were missing a few and playing people out of position, but there was no excuse for the performance against Pagham.
“We had the quality on the pitch to win the game and we had the chances to win the game, but missed them, that is one of the areas that needs addressing as it keeps happening and it can’t. We are not doing things right from front to back.”
The Hornets now return to league action away to promotion-chasing Corinthian Casuals on Saturday.
While their opponents occupy sixth, three points behind second-place Cray, Di Paola does not believe it matters who they are facing.
He quipped: “If they have anything about them, the players will work really hard in training on Thursday and give there all in going to Corinthian-Casuals. If it was me, I’d have to put it right.
“It does not matter who we play Saturday, it’s irrelevant as to the opponents, we just have to put it right. No-one deserves to be on the pitch on Saturday, so the ones that get the chance to play, lucky for them.”
Matt Axell comes back in to contention after illness into a, long-term absentees aside, fully-fit squad.