It was after the final whistle blew on any realistic chance of Holbeach United lifting silverware this season that we found out why their exit from the UCL KO Cup to Potton United was so tame.
The news that manager John Chand had quit the job just two weeks after his one-time colleague Graham Drury did the same spoke volumes for the passionless display served up by Holbeach against opponents they should have seen off comfortably.
A clever finish by Royals striker Adam Marsh who latched onto a through-ball from midfield before breaking through the Tigers back line and flicking a shot over advancing Holbeach keeper Nick Conroy decided the tie on 22 minutes.
But both before and after that goal, too many Tigers players looked to be lacking in motivation as if Drury’s claim that the FA Vase was the be-all and end-all of the season was right.
Thankfully, Holbeach winger Lee Beeson disagreed and he, more than any other Tigers player, showed desire, application and purpose to the cause.
Beeson could have made it a completely different story when his low shot was saved by Potton keeper Craig Lewis after just two minutes as Chand’s strategy of fielding Jamie Clarke, Andrew Tidswell and Gary King as an attacking three looked like paying off.
At the other end though, Marsh saw his right wing free kick curl the wrong side of Conroy’s right hand post before King fired a cross-cum-shot agonisingly across the Potton goal.
Tidswell was put through on 19 minutes, but a last-ditch tackle denied him his first goal since re-signing from Spalding a week earlier.
Then came Marsh’s goal for Potton and almost an immediate response from Beeson when his 30-yard free kick was tipped behind by Lewis for a corner on 26 minutes.
Three minutes later there was more Beeson pressure as he cut a ball back to Tidswell whose attempted back flick failed to make contact with the ball.
It’s worth saying that Holbeach’s two full backs, Grant Butler and Danny Maddison who were drafted in from Lincolnshire League side Wyberton, did an admirable job at short notice in trying to keep the Tigers’ season alive.
Defender Ben Brown’s header onto the post from a Beeson corner four minutes into the second half was the closest the home side came to an equaliser.
But Potton striker Gary Ansell-Carter almost made the tie safe on 71 minutes when he turned in the penalty area and shot straight at Conroy.
Then in stoppage time, Tidswell saw his shot from a Beeson corner hit the bar and then followed it up with another effort that Lewis saved from.
Plenty of food for thought for new Tigers managerial duo Darren Jarvis and Tom Roberts.
After the match, Chand said: “For me, I think Darren is one of the best young managers around here but he’s never been at a football club that has ever really supported him fully.
“He’ll get that here and Tom has a lot of contacts locally which is probably the model of winning the UCL title.
“I said to the boys ‘you get out of football what you put in’ and in recent weeks, I’ve looked around at people at this football club and I don’t think they’ve been putting in what they should be.
“A lot of people were on a high with the (FA) Vase and we’ve had quite a big hangover from it, but seeing the season out will be a no-pressure thing for Darren and Tom.”