Wisbech Town manager went into match without six players as Covid, injuries and unavailability struck
Wisbech Town manager Brett Whaley saw his pre-season plans blow up in his face as he lost five players during the build-up to today's Pitching In Northern Premier League 4-0 home defeat to Coleshill Town.
He knew influential defender Jon Fairweather would be missing for the first game of the season, but then fellow centre backs Ben Richards (unavailable) and Jack Keeble (injured) pulled out and midfielder Oli Williams and striker Avi Vieira contracted Covid.
Even a midfielder signed on loan on Thursday evening then rolled his ankle at work on Friday.
"You work all pre-season in a certain way with a group of players and you feel like you are getting somewhere and then to put out the side we had to today defensively made it very difficult.
"We looked like a side who hadn't played together because some of them hadn't played together. They defended like four individuals because that's what they are.
"It's not been like that in pre-season, but the last week has been horrible and that game summed it up.
"Every time Coleshill went forward in the first half they looked like scoring because we were all over the place. "All the bad things we did last year had stopped because we were no longer a new side, but when you've suddenly got a young lad coming in for his first game and three full backs in a back four, it is very difficult.
"We still wanted to give it a go but the early goal put us under pressure and we lost the confidence to get on the ball. It's easy to look at one end of the pitch but we didn't keep the ball well either – it's as if we felt sorry for ourselves.
"It is something we are going to have to get used to because further on, another group could drop out with Covid and that's the way it is.
"It was hard for a young lad like Ben Robson coming into that environment as they can wilt, but he never did. It's new and different but in terms of his development it will have done him the world of good. He's on loan but we would like to keep him involved."
Wisbech travel to play Corby Town in the league on Saturday and will welcome back Fairweather. However, they will be without captain Liam Marshall, who is unavailable for that game and the home FA Cup with Whitton United next Saturday.
Keeble looks like he will be out about for a month with an ankle injury and of the Covid victims, Oli Williams may be back for Saturday but Avi Vieira may be out for longer.
"Five of the lads have had Covid already and the impact of how long it takes to get back up to speed makes it a little longer," added Whaley.
"At the moment I am constantly making phone calls and we are putting approaches out, but the reality is clubs are going to have to waive them for us to get them in for Wednesday or Saturday. We will do things the right way and have identified two or three players we want.
"That's just the way it is so we can only influence what we do on the pitch. We have to be better on the ball, and we have to be first to second balls. We have to pick ourselves up and not feel sorry for ourselves.
"It's a long way to go and we know we're better than that. It is a 38 game season and hopefully some of the supporters there today have seen pre-season and realise that's not us.
"But we need some characters now. We have good footballers but we needs guts as this level is unforgiving. We have to get ready for Corby and then the FA Cup.
"Jonno is coming back and he is an organiser who will undoubtedly make a difference. We all know how good he is and he will definitely put us in a better situation but he's had a long time out of football, so will he be able to play both Wednesday and Saturday?
"I am moaning about it today but it will happen to everyone this season. Everyone will have a batch of Covid, everyone will have people out injured."