Mid-table mediocrity looks set to become the story of this season for Spalding United.
Last term’s play-off finalists already lacked strength in depth within the senior squad to cope with the loss of key players.
The Tulips’ under-21s look to have a bright future – and some of those youngsters will need to step up following the club’s budget cuts.
A lack of creativity must be a big concern as well on the evidence of Saturday’s home defeat to Carlton Town.
Lewis Millington and Ben Davison had limited service up front after being chosen to replace banned pair Jamie Jackson and Gary King.
On his debut, Davison fired into the bottom corner and he was the only candidate for the Tulips’ man-of-the-match honours.
All over the pitch, Spalding looked absolutely average in a third home league defeat of the campaign.
They conceded twice from set-pieces and recorded more offside decisions than shots on target.
The Tulips carelessly fell behind by failing to learn the lesson of a close call just two minutes earlier.
Kaylum Mitchell nodded wide from Daniel Gordon’s corner then Jake Carlisle headed home from a similar routine.
Just 10 minutes after the break, it was 2-0 as Jordan Lemon conceded a free-kick and Gordon’s 25-yard low drive found the net.
Davison – who was denied just before the break – pulled one back to offer some hope.
The Tulips switched to a three-man frontline and made more changes – however they never really looked capable of staging a comeback.
Miller substitute Mamoke Akaunu hit the crossbar on a counter-attack so it could have been even worse for Spalding.
Last season, they hit back from ‘nightmare November’ which brought one point from five league games.
After a poor start to a new month, the Tulips will need to make sure that results and performances are better than this.
They must do much more – but the promotion push is all over anyway.
4-4-2: Duggan 6; Fixter 6 (sub Lockie 69 mins, 6), Walker 6, Humble 6, A Jackson 6; Lemon 6, Marshall 6 (sub Maddison 76 mins), Beeson 6, Acar 6; Millington 6 (sub Neil 60 mins, 6), Davison 7. Sub not used: Smith.
4-2-3-1: Steggles; McNicholas, Carlisle, Walker, Lucas; Bertram, Schoenecker; Mitchell (sub Elliott 57 mins), Mellors-Blair, Gordon (sub Hooton 69 mins); Wilson (sub Akaunu 73 mins). Subs not used: Stovell, Gnahore.
Carlisle (32 mins, 0-1); Gordon (55 mins, 0-2); Davison (66 mins, 1-2).
Carlisle (foul); Hooton (kicking ball away).
Ben Davison – debut goal and provided aerial threat with limited service.
Basford United (A) – Saturday.