Alton’s Combined Counties revival crashed as they went down 5-0 at home to Abbey Rangers – and manager Kevin Adair labelled it the side’s worst performance in his three and a half years in charge.
“What could go wrong did go wrong,” he said.
“It was so bad that afterwards it wasn’t even worth evaluating the performance.
“We have been improving for six weeks but that sort of performance is not acceptable.
“I could have done some things better, the lads could have done some things better, but together we just have to learn from it and move on.
“We lost our captain in the warm-up and Louis Russell was suspended after his recent red card, but the squad was still strong and very competitive, and I think we were just naive in the way we went about things.
“I knew a bit about them and how they play, but some of the things I asked to happen didn’t go quite as I had wanted.
“I’m disappointed but it would be silly to read too much into it after the progression we had made in the previous six weeks.
“If we had put in that performance in August or September, in the months with other bad performances, it might have been the writing on the wall for me, to say if I’m not sure I’m the right man for this job, or if we weren’t as strong as we need to be.
“But it hasn’t been like that.
“Abbey Rangers were very good and efficient and everything we tried they seemed to have an answer for.
“They deserved the win but individually and collective we just weren’t good enough. Sometimes you just have to accept that.
“Games like that happen – even at the top level. The only thing you can ask after a day like that is that you have a reaction.
“We had a training session on Tuesday when we had a refresh – we don’t need to rewrite everything, just define certain points – and we just need to be better.
“As long as those games don’t come along more than once or twice in a season, we can live with it. You don’t mind losing when a team are better than you, but last week we all let ourselves down – and I include myself in that.
“The quality of the players we have make you think we won’t be that bad again on Saturday for the trip to Tadley Calleva.
“We have to all make a concerted effort to improve, acknowledge where we did things wrong and put them right, and try to move on.
“Sometimes you can analyse things too much – we just have to look at what we have been doing right in the games before that one, and go back to that.
“If we don’t improve this week, I’ll be worried. If it gets any worse, then we’ll be in big trouble.”
Alton are one of the clubs looking carefully at the fallout from Farnham Town, and have their eyes on a couple of players.
But Adair admits Alton cannot compete with other clubs who have a bigger budget.
“I won’t sell us down the river and risk the money we have that needs to last the season just to drag someone in – that’s not how we work.
“I’m fully understanding of the opportunity Alton have given me and the budget they gave me this year was an increase of the year before, and I appreciate that.
“Some teams will spend early and worry about it at the end of the season but I won’t do that.”