Whitchurch Alport go into this weekend’s home fixture against in-form AFC Blackpool sitting in eighth place in the First Division table.

A damaging defeat at promotion rivals Sandbach United on Saturday has left the Reds outside the play-off places for the first time this season.

But with two home games in 48 hours, two wins would go some way to changing the picture considerably.

The Reds boss didn’t feel his team deserved anything from the game.

He said: “It was a poor match and it hurts me to think Sandbach wanted it more than us.

“There wasn’t enough quality, especially in midfield, and I felt we lacked desire.

“I know I spoke about this last week but you could tell we were ring rusty.

“They’ve been playing regularly and as a result have built up some momentum. Once we scored to go 1-0 up we should have managed the game better but they went flat out looking for a point and ended up with all three.

“Too many players had an off day but despite the defeat, there’s no way they will finish higher than us in the league.

“Changes will need to be made and there are some tough decisions ahead but we have to instill some belief into what is still a very talented group of players.

“At the moment they’re playing with a fear factor and they’re scared to make a tackle or lose possession.

“The freedom they expressed last season isn’t there at the moment and we have to get back to what we do best.

“We have a heavy schedule of games coming up and if we can find some form and build some confidence, I would hope to be in a place where we could kick on in the new year.”

There were a number of results in the First Division that raised a few eyebrows, with the top four all beaten.

And the fact Alport hadn’t seen their main rivals go even further in front was the one small crumb of comfort that manager Luke Goddard could take from a disappointing afternoon in Cheshire.

He said: “A win would have been a perfect tonic for us, and then coming off the pitch to hear that all the teams above you had lost might just have been the catalyst we needed to lift this team.

“I suppose the fact we haven’t lost too much ground could be seen as a minor positive.

“But really it’s annoying watching people scroll through their phones after the match to check how all the others have gone on.

“The focus should be on us and nobody else.”

Alport’s support at Sandbach was sizeable and it wasn’t lost on Goddard, who is urging the fans to stick with his side.

“We let them down at Sandbach and they deserve better,” he said.

“But if they can come to the two matches against Blackpool (Saturday) and Cammell Laird (Monday, 7.45pm) and give us the same backing as they did there, we’d like the opportunity to try to put in a couple of performances they have become accustomed to.

“I’m going to try to relieve some of the pressure the younger lads are having to deal with, so we’ll attempt to keep things a bit more low key until confidence returns.”  

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