Injury-hit Gainsborough Trinity prepared for arguably their biggest match of the season this weekend with one of their worst results.
Trinity’s march towards the top of the Northern Premier League was halted with a first defeat in 11 matches.
But manager Lee Sinnott refused to be downbeat after the 2-1 loss at Stalybridge Celtic, where the visitors’ second-half performance deserved at least a point, and challenged his players to go on another unbeaten run.
Ahead of Saturday’s visit of legendary giantkillers Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup, Sinnott said: “You want the run to go on forever but football kicks you in the backside.
“I have said to the players, why can’t we go on another run? It is how you react to a defeat (that matters). We have not been used to it (a defeat) this season and we have got to make sure we are not used to it.”
Ross Hannah (above) hit an injury-time goal, but it was only a consolation.
Scott Bakkor capitalised on good work by James Caton to give the home side a first-half advantage.
Trinity dominated the second period and twice hit the bar before a fortunate ricochet four minutes from time handed Matty Wolfenden his third goal in as many matches, bundling home after a goalline clearance.
Sinnott praised the players for their versatility after adapting to a new system of three centre backs because of injuries to Trinity’s full backs, among others.
“They made a good fist of it,” he said. “We are very disappointed but you have to take it on the chin and come back hungrier.
“It is a formation that this squad can play. Did Stalybridge steamroller us? No! It is not the system (to blame for the defeat), we just paid for a couple of defensive errors.
“On another day we could have had not just one point but three.
“The (first) goal caught us out early on but then it was split for the rest of the first half. They had their moments and we had ours.
“But in the second half we pegged them in and were forcing (for an equaliser) but got caught for their second.
“We should have got something, hitting the bar twice, but it felt like we might never score.
We have done better this season as an attacking force. Around the final third we could have showed a bit more quality.”