Bradford Park Avenue manager Martin Drury has apologised to the fans following his side’s embarrassing FA Trophy defeat at Nantwich.
The Northern Premier League side defeated their opponents 5-0 in Tuesday’s second round replay to earn a home tie with Stourbridge in the last 16.
A disgusted Drury kept his players in the dressing room for over 45 minutes following the defeat, and spoke at length of his dismay afterwards.
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate Nantwich,” the 29-year-old boss said. “I thought they fully deserved their win.
“I thought they played some great stuff and were by far the better team, and it could have been more.
“The way they’ve set up and the way they play their football, they’ve got a decent surface here and they play an attractive style, I think deserves a lot of praise, so I think it is only right to commend that.
“Secondly, I’d like to apologise, on behalf of myself, Jamie, and the rest of the staff, to the football club, and to the supporters who have travelled and supported this team throughout the season.
“What’s been on show is nothing short of an utter disgrace.
“I’m an honest man, and I will hold my hands up when I get things wrong, I’ll accept criticism when it’s due, and it is at this moment in time.
“I accept that, but people need to stand up and be counted in that dressing room.
“We’ve had a long conversation after the game, I’ve got a lot of feedback from the players, asked a lot of questions that I needed answers to.
“The answers all sound right, they are all saying the right things to us about a reaction and saying that’s not good enough and all of that, but that all counts for nothing, absolutely nothing, if you haven’t got heart.
“I was never a brilliant footballer, but I loved the game, and I worked hard every single time I put that shirt on, and I didn’t accept anything less from anyone around me other than 100%, and working with people, and that’s where we went wrong tonight.
“I can’t fault the effort of most of them, but individual effort in football is absolutely irrelevant, it does nothing.
“We have come up against a team that play as a team against individuals working hard; they may as well not work hard if they don’t do so cohesively.
“I’ll be speaking with the relevant people to discuss important matters now.
“I’ve been told by everyone in the dressing room not to do anything too hasty, but I don’t think what has happened is acceptable.
“It’s amazing how you can go on a run in football showing so much character, desire, belief and quality in the games leading up to Christmas, to then have that after Christmas.
“I’ll not use any excuse about games getting called off, people need to stand up and be counted.
“I’ll be honest, I know these players, and some of their priorities need to change. They need to work harder away from football, and I think they know that, and that bothers me.”
Avenue face a tough trip to Gainsborough Trinity at the weekend, and Drury’s players have ensured him of a response.
“Looking forward, the players have promised a reaction on Saturday,” he said. “But we will see. We’ll see what happens between now and then.
“I can do what I’ve done in all the games where we have been successful, prior to this dip in form.
“I can give them every bit of tactical information that they need to beat Gainsborough Trinity.
“We know a lot about them, I can give them areas we can exploit, I can give them their weaknesses and also their strengths to be wary of, I can get them mentally and physically prepared for the game. But, ultimately, football players win games.
“The moment you cross that white line you need players with game management, people who know how to play games and win games of football. Knowing how to win games, even when you are against good teams, is vital, and tonight that showed.”
Drury made a double substitution at half time, removing captain Simon Ainge and second top goalscorer Richard Marshall from the action.
“I thought we were very lucky to be one down at half time. We’d had very little of the ball,” he said.
“This team is built of players who are given jobs to do, and if you have one or two players not doing those jobs, then the team is far weaker, that’s the same in any team sport. I could have taken more off at half time.
“We had a number of players who weren’t doing the jobs that they should have been doing, and we were dominated for the first 45 minutes. We were dominated in every aspect.
“I spoke with Jamie (Price – Assistant Manager) and I spoke with Terry (Dolan – Director of Football) at half time and it was clear, we were saying the same things.
“I wish I could but I can’t put some boots on and go on and start telling people where they should be running and who they should be marking, it’s basic football. I was screaming at them and it just wasn’t happening.
“Then the second half, we had to somehow chase the game, and we went three at the back which was always going to make us prone to conceding more goals.
“Yet what we didn’t manage to do is when we got any half decent balls further up the pitch, we never capitalised on anything. When you have men committed forward and you don’t score, you are susceptible to a counter-attack, and that’s how the game went on.”
The Avenue manager also said it is important he remembers this day, to make sure it doesn’t re-occur.
“I will not forget about this,” he explained. “The result I will forget about, but the performance I won’t, what I’ve seen I will not forget about.
“What I will do is I’ll reflect on what I’ve done, I’ll reflect on what every player has done, and while ever I am manager of this football club, I will work every single second throughout day and night to make sure that that never happens again. Ever, ever again.
“And I guarantee that will not happen again while I’m in charge.
“But we’ve got to have a reaction now, and I’ve been told that’s what we’ll get, but things need to be addressed in the next few days.
“It’s not about me, it’s not about Jamie, it’s not about those players, it’s about the football club. The football club is the biggest thing.”