HENLEY TOWN manager Roy Hanley has urged his side to play for their pride during the final period of the season after they experienced another demoralising defeat on Saturday.
The Lilywhites were beaten 7-1 after being on the end of a second half rampage against AFC Hinksey in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East.
It was their 17th league defeat of the season and the club remains rooted to the bottom of the table on two points, with nine games remaining.
Hanley said: “After the game I said it’s been a torrid season for the team but they’ve got two choices. They can let their heads drop and feel sorry for themselves or they can show a bit of character and say ‘we’ve got nine games left, let’s enjoy them, work hard and show what we can do’.
“I said to them that they’ve all been involved at this level all season now or prior to that and when you’re getting beat by a few goals you have to take pride in your own performance.
“It’s disappointing because it’s the first time since I’ve been in charge that it’s been that bad in respect of effort.” Despite making a number of changes to the side, which included a makeshift back four, due to injuries and player unavailability it looked as if Henley were capable of causing an upset in the early stages.
After five minutes Liam Ratcliffe charged down the left wing and crossed for Omari Edward-Holmes who turned it into the roof of the net.
The Lilywhites had a number of chances to extend their lead, including a golden opportunity for Ratcliffe to square for the unmarked Edward-Holmes or Prince Alozi.
The winger went for the goal himself but was denied by a good save from the opposition goalkeeper.
Henley led at half time but after Hinksey grabbed an equaliser five minutes into the second period following a corner, it opened the floodgates.
They went on to score another five goals in the next 25 minutes before adding a seventh late in the game.
Hanley said: “It was literally a game of two halves. We had a totally different back four from Tuesday’s game and that’s how it’s been all this season, chopping the team every single game.
“That said, we started the first half well and looked okay defensively. But I knew for a fact that Hinksey had a lot more in the tank than they were showing in the first half.
“After they got a couple of goals our heads just dropped. There was no single reason for the defeat, we just collectively failed to produce.
“Hinksey are a good team so you’ve got to give them credit. In the first half they were keeping the ball well but in their own half but in the second half they went a lot more direct.
“They used the wings a lot more and we weren’t able to deal with them. It wasn’t enjoyable viewing and as good as the first half was, the second half was poor and there were zero positives to take from it.”