A much-changed Harrogate Railway side suffered a 5-0 defeat at Worksop Town on Saturday.
In their first outing since the departure of player-boss Paul Beesley last week, the Locomotives conceded three before half-time and were well-beaten by the NCEL Premier Division’s 11th-placed side.
Under-18s coach Ray Green took charge of the men from Station View and was forced to make eight changes to the squad and six to the starting XI that took to the pitch for their previous league match against Barton Town Old Boys, just seven days earlier.
With Toby Lees, Lewis Riley and Jordan Hendrie all injured and David Brown and Mike Morris unavailable, Green turned to his youth squad, fielding six players under the age of 17.
Railway’s inexperienced side didn’t get off to the best of starts and fell behind with just five minutes on the clock, Sam Weston netting after a cross from the right wing.
Worksop doubled their lead when Kyle Jordan converted from the penalty spot following a contentious refereeing decision and the hosts then added a third in first-half stoppage time as Adam Scott’s deflected strike was helped past visiting stopper Leon Wrigglesworth by a gust of wind.
Mitch Husbands made it 4-0 when he chipped the ball over Wrigglesworth in the 71st minute and Weston then notched his second of the afternoon, heading home from a corner late on.
Reflecting on the defeat, boss Green said: “With only seven members of the first team squad available for this game, the biggest challenge was just getting a side out on the pitch.
“All things considered, I don’t think we did too badly. We had to play a number of my under-18s and I’m pleased with the lads’ effort.
“We had six lads aged 17 or under on the pitch at one stage. Some of them are ready to play at this level of football, but some of them aren’t quite there yet, so I’m proud of how they did.
“We were the better team at times and didn’t deserve to lose 5-0. We had more of the ball for good periods but couldn’t make it stick up front.”
Green felt that his side suffered a bit of bad fortune on the day and also believes that Worksop’s third goal just seconds before half-time proved a “killer”.
“The decision for their penalty for the second goal was a very poor one and then the shot for their third took a cruel deflection and then caught the wind. I’ve not seen too many goals go in like that before,” he added.
“We were still very much in the game at 2-0 but conceding just before the break killed us really.
“It changed the dynamic of the match and meant I had to completely re-think the team talk I was about to give at half-time.
“We did okay in the second half but just couldn’t keep the ball in the final third.”
Railway remain 17th in the Premier Division standings despite the defeat and return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Division One promotion chasers Hallam in the League Cup.