Hale Leys United manager Paul Alleyne has apologised for his side’s poor performance after they suffered their first loss of the season in a 3-1 defeat to New Bradwell St Peter on Saturday.
Alleyne welcomed back Kevin Mealor for the clash as an injury-hit Hale looked to continue their march towards the title against Bradwell, who are also in the promotion mix.
And although they started poorly, the home side went ahead against the run of play when Mealor rose highest to power home a header.
However, despite the early goal, United struggled to find their usual fluency and they were forced into a change when Alex Woodfine replaced the injured Unas Ilyas and moments later, the visitors equalised to make it 1-1 at the break.
Hale improved after half-time as Mealor had a goal disallowed for a foul, but it was Bradwell who struck next through a 25-yard free-kick.
The hosts continued to press forward and they went close again when Nathan Graham flashed over when well-placed before Daniel Parsons and Jack Bowers were both introduced, but as Hale desperately threw everything forward in an attempt to protect their unbeaten record, they were caught on the break when the visitors netted a third goal through Jason Nurse.
That sealed a stunning win with Hale’s lead at the top now cut to eight points.
Alleyne said afterwards: “There was nothing positive to take away from this game - we were not ready, we played badly and were beaten by a better team who wanted it more than us.
“I will be reassessing my selection process before we travel to Ealing Town this Saturday because I’m shocked to see us roll over that easily.
“This is tough league to be in as all the teams are very experienced and despite our points advantage they know that a bad run of games can get them back in the race for the league and unfortunately that happened today, so we have some decisions to make before we next play.
“I would like to apologise to all the people who gave up their Saturday afternoons to come and support us - this was a poor game all-round and I will rectify this immediately. We start again now.”
Assistant manager Roni Joe was equally frustrated, adding: “I’m appalled at what happened out there. It was sad to see our record disappear in such poor circumstances.
“We have to look forward as that game is done now. We still have the semi-final of the League Cup and the league title to fight for and I believe all the players know we were not good enough today so we all need to raise it this week.”
Hale are away at Ealing Town this Saturday.