BRIDGWATER Town manager Phil Hucker has described his side’s 1-0 defeat at Wantage Town on Saturday as “a huge blow” to their chances of avoiding ending the season bottom of the table, writes Paul Martin.
The Robins realistically needed a win against the fellow strugglers to stand any chance of survival, but now sit 21 points from safety with just eight matches left to play.
Reflecting on the result, Hucker said: “It was a bit of a strange game, as they scored with about the only attempt on goal in the 90 minutes.
“We were playing up a slight slope in the first half but defended well and controlled the majority of the game.
“They scored on 35 minutes with what was a disappointing goal for us to concede, and in the second half a lack of quality in the final third let us down.
“There was no lack of effort or commitment, but we just couldn’t create any chances to find an equaliser despite having about 70% of the possession.
The writing may be on the wall for Town’s prospects of staying in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division 1 South & West, but Hucker insisted that does not mean they will be easing off.
“We owe it to ourselves and to the other teams in the division to make sure that we do not give away easy points,” he said.
“The motivation for the players is to take the club forward so that we are ready for next year.
“Alternatively, if they feel they are worthy of playing at this level, then they must go out and prove it so that they get a chance of staying in this division.”
The Robins’ performances have generally been solid since Hucker took over in mid-January, but the manager has now overseen 12 straight defeats during his challenging tenure.
“I knew it was going to be a tough job when I came in, as it is a difficult league where teams grind out results,” he said.
“The frustration for me is that we have not been outplayed in any one match, and I’ve always felt we have been in the game, yet we cannot convert that into results.
“We are being beaten by teams with a bit more quality and experience, both of which are things we have been lacking throughout this campaign.
“If we do end up finishing bottom, it will not be because we lost on Saturday, it will be because of our results over the course of the season - that is why we are where we are.”
Bridgwater’s relegation will be confirmed if they lose at Mangotsfield this weekend and each of Totton, Slimbridge and Yate pick up positive results.
For a full preview of Town’s clash in Gloucestershire, visit bridgwatermercury.co.uk/sport on Friday.