Lancaster City boss Phil Brown was left cursing his luck after an unusual set of circumstances contributed towards his team’s downfall on Tuesday night.
The Dolly Blues were beaten 3-0 at lowly Marine, but the final scoreline does not paint a full picture of the events.
The visitors were hampered by a series of injuries, which forced them into a major reshuffle during the first half and led them to play the entire second period with just 10 men.
City’s tale of injury woes began when Charlie Bailey landed awkwardly on his shoulder and within minutes Paul Jarvis was signalling to the bench after pulling his quad.
Before the half-hour mark, Brown was forced into making his third and final substitution when Mamadou Djabi felt his hip flexor go.
There was worse to come as Steve Williams limped into the dressing room at half-time nursing a pulled hamstring and was unable to return to the field for the second half.
In another twist to the tale, striker Tom Kilifin soldiered on throughout the entire 90 minutes despite sustaining a nasty open wound to his leg.
Brown admitted that the events were certainly unique as far as his long career in the game was concerned.
“In all my years in the game, I’ve never experienced anything like that before,”Brown said.
“To lose four players – three of them in the first 30 minutes and then to have to play the second half with just 10 men; without wanting to make excuses, there were certainly mitigating circumstances.
“To have to use all my subs after 30 minutes, we had to shuffle the pack and we had people playing out of position. We just had to try to work with the options that we had got on the night.
“It knocked the stuffing out of us a little bit.
“I am disappointed to lose, but there was bit more to it than the 3-0 scoreline suggests.
“The lads kept going under the circumstances, they didn’t cave in and so there’s positives there.”
Despite lamenting the rotten luck in terms of the casualty list, Brown – who watched his team’s core two late goal to earn a point against Stafford on Saturday – admitted his team had made life difficult for themselves by conceding early on before the injury curse struck.
The frustrating aspect was that City had begun the match in the ascendancy, but failed to make their superiority count and Brown has urged his men to be more ruthless in front of goal.
“It was a bit of a similar story to the last few weeks in that we started the game well, had the best chances to open the scoring but failed to take them,” he said.
“That has probably happened in the last three, four or five games where we have not scored the first goal and then we have been undone by a set play.”
This weekend, City travel to play-off chasing Barwell and Brown admitted he is likely to be without all of the four players who did not finish the game on Tuesday night, while Kilifin is also a major doubt.
However, one positive is a number of players missed the match at Marine and will come back into contention.
Rob Henry, Glen Steel, Ricky Mercer, Ben Hudson and Hannu Tam are expected to be available, while Brown is hoping to delve into the transfer market between now and the weekend.
“I would imagine it’s very unlikely that Tom Kilifin will figure at the weekend and as for the other four we will have to assess them tonight at training,” said Brown.
“On the flip side, we had a number of players who missed the game against Marine so I am not fretting about the squad for this weekend.”
Barwell have been on a decent run of late, winning six and drawing three of their last 11 matches and have put themselves in contention for a top five spot.
“They have been on a good run,” said Brown. “They lost their last game to Warrington, but there’s no disgrace in that because Warrington are a good team.
“We played them in December and we drew 1-1, “We were winning 1-0 at half-time, but they came out a little bit of a different team in the second half and got the equaliser.
“I know that they are pushing for the play-offs.”