FURIOUS Aldershot Town assistant boss Stuart Cash blasted his players after a strong Shots side capitulated in the Bryco Cup on Tuesday night - losing, deservedly, to a side two divisions below them in the Ryman League structure.
Cash accused his players of showing a "lack of desire and commitment" as they lost out to division two leaders Cheshunt in a night of embarrassment which Shots fans will want to forget pretty sharpish.
Ross White's 76th minute winner proved the difference between the two sides, but in truth, the Shots were never up for this, registering just two efforts on goal all evening.
And with boss Terry Brown away on a scouting mission, it was left to Cash to explain to the boss just what went wrong.
He said: "We had five or six regular first team starters there and a host of other players who are knocking on the door, asking why they are not in the team. That has answered their question tonight.
"I just feel sorry for the supporters, who travelled a long way and paid good money at the turnstiles to watch that. It's just not acceptable.
"These are well-paid players at this club and, whatever competition you play in, you play to win. We didn't want to know. There are players here playing for their places, they did not do themselves any favours at all.
"Yes, the conditions were bad, but it was the same for both teams and I'm not going to use that as excuse. I hope the dressing room is full of embarrassment because I certainly am."
The Shots, who won this competition in 1998-99 season when named the Ryman League Cup, are still suffering from injuries and illness, but, in truth, Cash picked a side which was still more than capable of rolling over division two opposition.
Paul Moody, Jason Cousins, Lee Holsgrove and Paul Buckle have all had vast Football League experience, while fellow first teamers Jason Chewins, Richard Gell, Adam Parker and Dominic Sterling, also in the line-up, are all seasoned performers at premier division level.
But, despite this, the only positives Cash could report back on was the form of defensive duo Cousins and Sterling — Cousins, in particular, looking solid as ever in this, his first game back from injury.
Cheshunt started as they meant to go on — full of heart, while displaying the kind of football which belied their lowly Ryman League position. Having said that, with a record of seven wins out of seven, they are the only side in all four Ryman divisions to boast an unbeaten record this term — and it showed.
Stand-in keeper Richard Hurst was forced into the action early, first saving from White as early as the second minute, and then tipping a Leon Archer effort round the post.
These two, plus Darryl Cox and Steve Obeng gave the Shots back line a testing time throughout - Obeng's close range strike was hacked off the line, while Hurst was forced to come off his line quickly to deny Cox in a one-on-one.
Art the other end, the Shots posed very little threat. Transfer-listed Parker, looking to impress the management team in this, his big chance, had an effort cleared off the line after powerful work by Moody, while Gell shot just past the post early on.
But that was about it, and the Shots were made to pay with 14 minutes remaining when White checked on the edge of the box after a surging run and executed a perfect chip over the despairing Hurst to the far corner of the net — sending the small band of supporters wild.
Looking on the bright side, defeat is not the end of the word, and may even help Brown in the long run as his title dream draws nearer.
Worryingly though, if the Shots struggle as they did on Cheshunt's bobbly, uneven surface, then Saturday's tough trip to Hendon will come as no delight to them.
The Claremont Road pitch is notoriously one of the worst in the division, but it seems to suit the north Londoners, who are enjoying their best season for years - currently sitting in fourth place, just four points behind the leading Shots.
Boss Brown and Cash were due to sit down and discuss the team on Thursday night after the reserve team game at Yeading as the News went to press on Wednesday night, in which several first teamers were due to turn out.
Dean Hooper, Anthony Charles, Nick Roddis, Roscoe D'sane and Lee Charles all have their fitness to prove with Saturday in mind.
SHOTS: Hurst; Cooper (sub Sowden 67mins), Chewins, Cousins, Sterling, Holsgrove, Gell, Parker (Thompson 78), Moody (Andrews 90), Harper, Buckle. Att: 363.