Dean Thomas gave a damning verdict on his Kettering Town team’s display after their Calor League Division One Central campaign took a turn for the worse against Slough Town.
The Poppies were humbled for the second time in the space of a week at Latimer Park as the visitors took full advantage of a defensive horror show to run out emphatic 5-1 winners.
There had been a ray of hope for Kettering when Nathan Fox scored their first goal of the season to make it 2-1 after half-time.
But the Poppies collapsed after that and, with a trip to St Ives Town to come tomorrow (Monday), Thomas branded the display as “unacceptable” and admitted he had never been more embarrassed in his managerial career.
“Once again we were undone on the break after three minutes and we were climbing a mountain again,” Thomas said.
“We can’t seem to defend free-kicks despite working on it and talking about it. You need characters to stand up and be strong and we haven’t got enough.
“I thought we started the second half well and we scored a goal. The fans were behind us and once again we got undone by a free-kick and it was weak. From there, it was men against boys. We lost our shape completely.
“I have managed 983 games and I can remember all of them. That is the most embarrassing performance I have ever managed.
“That doesn’t epitomise Dean Thomas. It wasn’t acceptable to this football club and it certainly isn’t acceptable to me.
“I have come here because it is a great club with a great history and I wanted to help us succeed this season but we are nowhere near at the moment.
“The lads have to take a look at themselves. If we are a poor side and we work hard then I will accept it and if we give our all for 90 minutes then the fans would accept it as well.
“But we can’t even say that. There has been a deterioration in confidence and I think a few of them threw the towel in for the last 20 minutes.
“It was an appalling performance and all I can do is apologise to the fans again.
“We have to rally around and put a team out to play St Ives tomorrow and see if we can turn this situation around.”
Thomas was able to find a couple of positives with substitutes Fox and, in particular, Rob Foster helping to create a spark in the second half.
He added: “The only positives were the likes of Rob Foster and Nathan Fox because at least they had a go.
“Rob came on and epitomised what I am looking for - someone with a bit of devil in him. But too many players went under when the going got tough.
“You judge characters when things get hard and I am afraid a lot went missing. I have to turn thing around and change things quickly.”