MANAGER Brian Hughes described Cirencester Town’s 6-1 home defeat by Bridgwater on Saturday as ‘one of the low points of my footballing career’.
Even three days after his side’s biggest drubbing for almost two years, he remained downbeat.
“We have now lost three in a row and been very poor in all three,” he said.
“I can’t believe these are the same players who battled their balls off to win at Cinderford, for example, earlier in the season.
“For the first ten minutes I thought we were decent, and then when the first goal went in they came along like London buses.
“All six goals were down to mistakes and avoidable.”
Town gave a debut in the game to keeper Dave Evans, 25, who joined from Slimbridge in the previous week, having been a long-term target since Matt Bath decided to retire earlier in the season.
“We asked Forest Green goalkeeping coach Kev Phillips about possible targets and he mentioned Evans,” said Hughes.
“He has been at Slimbridge for some time and was reluctant to leave, but he decided he wanted to step up a level with us.”
But Evans had a torrid time on his first start, conceding a penalty which led to the opening goal on 18 minutes – he saved one later in the game – and being at fault for the fourth goal which killed the match off early in the second half.
“Dave came up and apologized after the game, but you could only fault him for one of the goals,” said Hughes.
“It was bar-of-soap football in atrocious conditions and not a day for goalkeepers.”
Experienced centre back Ricky Allaway, 29, another recent signing, also had a home debut to forget.
“We have been struggling to replace Matt Sysum and using the youngsters,” said Hughes.
“Even when we were in the play-off places, we had a negative goal difference, which was something I needed to address.
“We moved quickly for Ricky after the upheaval at Witney when both the manager and chairman left.
“Sam Collier knew him at Abingdon and recommended him. He has plenty of experience, is a good talker, and seems as keen as mustard.”
Despite shipping six goals to an impressive Bridgwater outfit, Hughes was keen not to pin the blame entirely on his defence.
“To be honest, I am more concerned about the six forward players than the back five,” said Hughes.
Midfielder Ben Wells got the only Cirencester goal of the game with his side’s first shot on target deep into stoppage time and Hughes said: “Ben was the only player who came out of the game with any credit.
“The players just seem to have lost their energy. They were always arriving a yard after the ball had gone and it was always a real struggle to get it back.
“I know Bridgwater had won their last five and not conceded a goal in those games but we could have done a million times better. I’m 50 and I think I would have been more competitive out there.”
If Hughes wanted to make changes, his hands are tied by injuries to three key players.
New captain Jamie Reid, crocked by a bad tackle in the home defeat by Paulton Rovers, is taking longer to recover than was anticipated and after Saturday’s visit by Mangotsfield he is unavailable for three games as he will be spending Christmas and New Year in New York.
Sam Collier still has a swollen ankle after falling awkwardly in the defeat at Poole and Alex Allard remains sidelined with hamstring trouble.
Hughes will hope to arrest his side’s slump ahead of what he calls ‘a massive derby game’ against local rivals Swindon Supermarine on Jan 1 at the Corinium (3pm).
Dave Webb’s Supermarine have won ten league games on the bounce and are third in the league table with game in hand.