Melton Town boss Shane Jarram has questioned the attitude of some of his squad after watching his side fall to a 12th league defeat of the season.
It was once again a case of what might have been for Town who were unable to turn a pleasing performance into points on Saturday.
Matt Hendey’s double put Melton 2-1 in front at Irchester United, but for the sixth time this season Town lost points after leading as the hosts scored twice in the last 10 minutes for a smash-and-grab 3-2 win.
The defeat, which left Melton 15th in United Counties League Division One, led to some honest words in the changing room after full-time.
Jarram said: “It was more our inability to manage the game as players and see it out which has cost us on more than one occasion this season.
“We have a good following and they said we played really well and it was just one of those games, but we have had quite a few of those games.
“I would sooner pay poorly and get the three points.”
He added: “We had a discussion after the game because certain attitudes aren’t what they should be in terms of how much it matters to some of them.
“You look around at a couple of lads on the bench who are so eager to get on, and then you look at others who perhaps come first in the pecking order and their body language is all wrong, because they haven’t started the game.
“Some players seem to have a high opinion of themselves and feel they are better than everyone else, but I think that’s football in general now.”
A run of four league defeats in five has also left Jarram considering a shift in his management style, having taken sole charge following the retirement of co-manager Steve Hendey in October.
“I said to them the other week that I have got to be a bit tougher with them,” he said.
“I didn’t want to rock the boat when I arrived and I have bowed to what some players might think. I found myself doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing.
“But now it’s a case of trying to get things how I want them and put my stamp on the team.”
Melton have won admirers for their style of play in recent seasons and have a respectable goal tally of 41 in the league.
But they have also conceded 49 goals, a stat exacerbated by having to field nine goalkeepers this term.
Jarram has challenged his side to convert performances into points, even if it means occasionally abandoning the style.
“I’ve told the lads that if they think they are better than 14th or 15th then they need to prove it,” he said.
“I believe we are better than where we are in the league; we are a good side, but the table doesn’t lie.
“We should have beaten Buckingham in both games and lost twice, and we beat Raunds when they were top, but we need consistency.
“We need to learn to win ugly. Some of the lads want to play pretty football all the time, but at this time of year on the pitches we play on you can’t always do that.
“We have got to get in there in the mud and dirt and do what’s required.”
The former Shepshed Dynamo player insists there is still plenty to play for this season, with a chance of county cup silverware, and 15 league games remaining, starting with a home match against third-placed Rushden and Higham on Saturday (ko 3pm).
“We are not writing this season off,” Jarram added. “We are in the semi-finals of the county cup and there are quite a few games left and we will go into every one of them wanting to win and finish as high as possible.
“When things started off a bit shaky we lost our way a little bit.
“Hopefully we can put ourselves in a strong position for next year, but next season will be a completely different entity.”