Chichester City players have had a week off to regroup ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Guernsey.
Miles Rutherford’s FA Cup heroes suffered their biggest Isthmian League South East defeat of the season last Saturday when they went down 5-1 at leaders Hastings United.
It was a reality check for Chi’s players less than a week after losing 5-1 to League One Tranmere Rovers – from five divisions above – in the FA Cup second round.
The loss at Prenton Park had been followed by an agonising last-gasp 3-2 Senior Cup exit to Lewes in midweek and Saturday felt like a game too far against a side ready to exploit any tired minds and bodies.
With boss Rutherford away due to a family commitment, assistant Graeme Gee was left to stress Chi must now get their minds back on the bread and butter of a demanding league, starting tomorrow.
He told The Post: “We have a week off and we had some choice words in the dressing room (at Hastings).
“There was a little bit of honesty because as much as we took all the plaudits over the past six, seven weeks with all the media, whatever, that’s now gone.
“They can look back on that in 20 or 30 years time but now we have got to get back to what we’re normally good at.
“We are going to give them a week off so they can, hopefully, rest and recuperate so that they can start again.
“We have a big game on Saturday.”
Hastings know better than anyone the pitfalls of an FA Cup run. They went all the way to the third round and lost to Middlesbrough in the 2012-13 season – then got relegated.
Nobody is suggesting Chi are likely to follow suit but Gee stressed the players are still learning at this level.
He added: “We have some disappointed chaps in the dressing room but I am not going to hammer any of them.
“They have been an absolute credit to our football club.
“We have to put it in perspective that we were County League champions last year in a very different league and we are still adjusting to life.
“But today was not acceptable from Chichester City Football Club and it’s a dark weekend for us.
“Last week was the other side of the coin but we got our just desserts today.
“All credit to Hastings, though, as they have a wonderful side, wonderful squad, great management team, great crowd and it is all set for promotion here.
“If we can’t get anywhere near it, then I do hope Hastings get promotion.
“They are all set to go.”
Play-off chasers Guernsey visit tomorrow. They are seventh and six points ahead of Chi, who have played five games less.
Gee expects another test from the Channel Islanders.
He said: “They are all tough for us.
“We don’t look at anyone in the league and think there are three points which are going to come cheaply.
“We have to work hard in every game – week in and week out – and the bulk of this side were playing in the County League last year.
“We are adjusting to this level and we are finding out whether we are good enough and, unfortunately, at Hastings we weren’t good enough.”