Eastwood Town player/manager Chris Shaw admitted for the first time this week that relegation looks likely - but insists his team will keep fighting for every point.
A crucial six-pointer at Kendal Town last weekend ended in a 6-0 defeat, leaving Shaw dismayed at the paucity of desire shown by his side.
That loss was followed by an exit from the Notts Senior Cup on Tuesday, a tournament Eastwood have dominated in recent years.
Shaw said: “It’s been really difficult this week and it’s hard to know what to say right now.
“I was gutted with what happened at Kendal because I really felt with the League Cup win behind us from four days previously, we’d take some real belief up there with us.
“But we left everything at home and it was unacceptable. We had no fight, no quality, nothing, and deserved to be beaten like we were.
“I feel sorry for the players whenever they work hard and lose, but that’s not the case on this occasion.
“You can’t just turn up when you want to turn up, nor can you have just one or two players trying when the others aren’t.
“The hill has got even higher now and you have to be honest and say it looks like we’ll go down, but you can never say never and we’ll keep fighting and trying to turn it around.”
Shaw said he has half an eye on next season with regard to improving the playing squad, regardless of what division Eastwood may be in, and that he is keen to have players at the club that are there for the right reasons.
He added: “I’ve got to look at the lads who want to be here and play for this club, not those who just want a quick pay packet and then move on.
“I’m rebuilding the squad for the future, not just for the rest of this season. If we go down then we’ll have a squad good enough for that division, and if we stay up then that will have proved they could be good enough for this one too.”
The next test will be the visit of Matlock Town on Saturday, a side Eastwood beat earlier in the season under John Ramshaw.
Shaw said: “On Tuesday night we created a lot of chances but Sutton’s keeper was outstanding, so if we can continue in that vein we’ll have a chance on Saturday of doing the double over Matlock.”