Knaresborough Town manager Brian Davey described his side’s 4-1 defeat away at AFC Mansfield on Saturday as ‘men against boys’.
Davey’s side came into the match missing three first-team centre halves and the hosts were able to capitalise on Town’s defensive frailties as early as the seventh minute.
Jimmy Ghaichem’s goal separated the sides at half time but any hopes of a second half comeback were quashed after just two minutes when Joe Naylor doubled Mansfield’s lead.
Craig Mitchell made it three and Grant Allot grabbed the fourth before Town’s Colin Heath grabbed a consolation with a sublime free kick in the 87th minute.
Davey admitted that he knew his side were in for a tough game before the match and said that his team were not ‘strong enough’ to deal with Mansfield’s centre forwards.
He said: “We had Will Lenehan suspended and were also without Luke McCrum and Alex Wilson so that’s three centre halves who have played for us for most of the season.
“We had to have a right swap round with the team and it just wasn’t strong enough to deal with their two centre forwards.
“In the second half we swapped it round, we wanted to be more direct and get it to the wingers quicker.
“We’ve been defending so well against the big sides but their centre forwards have headed in three of their four goals. The whole second half it was men against boys.
“We could not compete with a big strong side, we are a young small side and we came up against something we could not deal with, we did not have enough to compete.”
Davey gave reserve team player Paul Atkinson his first start in the side after a run of good performances for Mike Bligh’s team but the Knaresborough manager admitted it may not have been the ideal match to for Atkinson to be brought into.
However, because of their current league position, Davey confirmed he would continue to give players from the reserves and their academy a chance before the end of the season.
He said: “We brought two or three reserves in, including Paul Atkinson, it was a big step up against a big side.
“We did not come away from the game with anything and it was not the best game to put Liam in, it was a game that was hard going in and we did not get anything.
“We are in a position where we’re mid table so we can gamble, we can try some of the lads from the reserves and the academy but unfortunately it was not good enough.
“Now it’s a case of trying a few more and consolidating what we have got and improving for next season.”
Knaresborough failed to bounce back positively from the result as they were beaten by the same scoreline at home to Penistone Church on Tuesday night.
Heath gave Davey’s side the half time lead after finding the net on 23 minutes but a Brett Bowden-Lovell hat-trick after the break, as well as a strike from James Young, gave Penistone the points.