Angry Daventry Town boss Darran Foster hit out at his players for their lack of passion as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at bottom-of-the-table Ashford Town on Tuesday.
A late Tommy Berwick penalty was all Daventry had to show from their trip to Middlesex, with Ashford celebrating only their fourth win of the season.
The bottom-markers have improved recently, and Tuesday’s result stretched their unbeaten run to six matches, but Foster was in no mood for pulling punches when asked about his team’s performance.
“Ashford are an improving team, but that is no excuse for our lack of ideas and the absence of any passion from my players,” said a frustrated Foster.
“It was tough losing Ashley Robinson so early in the match, just as it looked like he was getting the better of their defenders
“We created a few chances in the match, but we really must do better if we are to have any chance of winning the title.
“We were second best to a side fighting to avoid relegation at the foot of the table.
“No excuses, on the day we were beaten by a better side, we were very poor, which I am hugely disappointed about.
“We will need to put in some much stronger performances over the next couple of matches, if we are to have any chance of moving up the table.”
Daventry have picked up just one point from their past three matches - all in the space of six days - and now trail leaders Rugby Town by eight points, although they do still have four games in hand.
With Kettering and Dunstable Town both dropping points on Tuesday, it was an opportunity missed for Daventry to pull ahead of two of their promotion rivals.
At Ashford, Ashley Robinson was substituted early on, after a leg injury, and the home side went ahead after 39 minutes, Marcel Simpson judged to have made a foul in the box. James Awosifan duly stepped up and converted the kick.
After the break, Guy Sanders came on to replace Ashley Deeney, but Ashford went further ahead when former Egham striker Tom Brunton scored after 55 minutes.
The referee awarded his second penalty in the 87th minute, this time to Daventry, striker Berwick stroked the ball home to give Town some hope of saving a point, but it was not to be.
The promotion alarm bells will now be ringing at Communications Park.
Town have picked up just one point from their past three games, and this situation will need to be corrected at Chertsey on Saturday, before meeting second-placed Dunstable Town at Communications Park next Tuesday.
Ashford Town 2 Daventry Town 1
Tuesday, March 18
Calor League Central Division One
Location: The Robert Parker Stadium, Stanwell, Middlesex.
Daventry: Richard Morris, Ashley Deeney (Guy Sanders 45mins), Ollie Wilkinson, Josh Blake, Marcel Simpson, Adam Confue, Josh O’Grady, Ross Oulton, Ashley Robinson (Luke Keen 21mins), Tommy Berwick, Mykel Beckley (Ryan Howell 60mins)
Scorer: Tommy Berwick (penalty) 84mins
MOM: Guy Sanders (welcome back!)
In the book: None