Boss Barnes still wants a top six finish
The 3-1 defeat against Whitchurch Alport at the Silentnight Stadium, where Shaun Airey responded to Alex Hughes’ hat-trick in stoppage time, was the club’s fifth defeat in succession.
The slump started with a 3-2 loss against 1874 Northwich in the quarter-final of the Macron Cup and gathered pace when they were dumped out of the West Riding County Cup by Guiseley at the semi-final stage.
At that point Barnes was hit with an injury crisis when as many as eight players were sidelined and Airey was suspended.
Reversals against Squires Gate and Burscough followed and, as a consequence, they’ve dropped to eighth in the division.
“We’ve had a bit of a lull because we’ve been struggling for numbers,” said Barnes. “We’ve had eight first team players out injured, we’ve had one suspended and another unavailable.
“We’ve had to bring new faces in who went straight in to the squad. That has upset our rhythm but I always knew a spell like this would come.
“We’ve not really had the chance to put it right, we haven’t been able to put out our settled side that has done so well this season. It’s been a tough period.
“It all came from the Guiseley game and we had Shaun Airey sent off against Squires Gate. It was just a domino effect. It’s been terrible but we’re getting there now hopefully.”
Barnes has worked hard to replenish his numbers, bringing in Kian Yari and Ethan Kershaw from Burnley as well as young Oldham Athletic forward Sam Amankwaa.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the TDP Solicitors Stadium, where they face title-chasing City of Liverpool, he said: “Times like these test the players and myself as a manager.
“We want to finish our season as strong as possible and push in to the top six. It can be hard getting lads motivated for a top six finish sometimes, especially with the cup competitions going as well, and they just end up playing the season out.
“But they’re playing for their shirts next season, I’ve put that message out to them, and they know that they’ve got to perform.”