Holwell Sports manager Simon Daws insists he will steer his side back into form despite a dispiriting home defeat to Radford on Saturday.
The 5-0 loss was Holwell’s 13th in their last 14 East Midlands Counties League matches in what is their worst run of form in many years.
But it was the manner of the latest defeat which left Daws bemused and frustrated.
“That was the worst we have been to be honest,” he said. “I thought we were making steady progress, but that was a blow we didn’t need.
“After all the work we have been putting in for the last 10 weeks I felt there was light at the end of the tunnel, but Saturday has knocked me back a bit.
“The way we were playing before Christmas, it would have only taken one result to get another; that’s how close we were to getting back.
“We had a month off, which doesn’t help, but we were at 0-0 for half-an-hour and then gave them four out of their five goals.”
The Asfordby Hill club were riding high for the first month of the season, buoyed by new signing Julian Joachim, the former Premier League star.
They were a top six side in the league after just one defeat in their first six matches and had their best run in the FA Cup, beating higher league opposition on the way.
But a string of long-term injuries and the departure of four senior players sparked a dramatic downturn in fortunes.
Daws knows new faces are needed to refresh the squad and give support to the young players who have been drafted into the first team.
He added: “We have approached three players this week to try to strengthen the squad.
“We are not in a position to ring players up and offer them 40 or 50 quid, but hopefully we can get a couple in.
“I am determined to get it right and determined that the players in the squad, especially the young ones we have blooded, will come out of this tunnel of darkness and become better players.
“There is an end game there which can only make us stronger in the long term.”
Following a string of postponements, Saturday’s game was only Holwell’s second in a month, but Daws is acutely aware his side do not have the luxury of time to find their feet.
On Saturday they travel to seventh-placed Aylestone Park and then top four side South Normanton before a vital showdown at bottom side Greenwood Meadows on Saturday, January 30.
Holwell are second-bottom, level on points with Ellistown, and eight points above Meadows who have won just once in 20 games.
With one team due to be relegated, Sports’ future in the league would be all but assured with victory in Nottingham, but Daws does not want to take anything for granted.
“What worries me with the league is that they change the rules all the time,” he said. “We don’t know if they’ll decide to relegate no teams or two.
“We have got to try to pick up points and climb the table to be sure.”
Daws is in his eighth season at Welby Road, in two spells, and has twice guided Holwell to fifth-place finishes in the EMCL.
He has only once failed to finish inside the top 10, in 2011/12 - the first season of his second spell – when they came 11th.
“It’s been very difficult,” he added. “I’ve managed sides before in this predicament, but in those days I was capable of putting my boots on myself and leading by example on the pitch. Now I’m 51.
“I’m pretty confident we will be okay, but I would rather it happened sooner rather than later.
“The next three points will be the most important, how and whenever they come.”