Gosport Borough have been cast adrift at the bottom of the Evo-Stik South after their 3-1 home reverse at the hands of Bishops Stortford and manager Mick Catlin warned "things will get worse before they get better".
Boro's defeat and Dunstable's home win over Farnborough has left Catlin's side three points adrift at the bottom and facing up to a crucial clash at Dorchester Town on Monday evening with an ever growing injury list which ensures his choices are limited.
The embargo restricted and injury hit squad will head down the A31 to the Avenue Stadium desperately needing a result. However, they will make the journey in an upbeat mood after a strong second half display against Kevin Watson's Bishops.
Catlin (pictured) explained the issues he faces in a post-match social media statement.
"The lads are doing the best they can under the circumstances the squad is low on numbers. Because of the embargo, we are restricted in bringing in replacements.
"We are going to be severely tested at Dorchester on Monday as we have a few injuries and no time to get players in. I thank the fans for their support but I think things are going to get worse before they get better," he concluded.
Catlin was without Jamie Brown, who sustained a knee injury during last week's defeat to Hitchin and could only name 14 players for the visit of the Hertfordshire side but when two goal Sharique Hyde-Skerritt opened the scoring midway through the first half Boro' weren't fazed.
They battled back bravely and had their chances before skipper Mark Hughes took the game away from them along with a third from Hyde-Skerritt in the second half.
Gosport's second half performance in particular was highly encouraging. Boro' had their chances and Iffy Onwauchwu's late goal proved little more than a consolation but it was reward for a lot of persistence and effort.
It was a quiet opening ten minutes until Gosport carved out the first real opening of the afternoon. A strong run from Watts down the left caught the visitors cold and he picked out the arriving Woodward at the far post who spooned the ball up over the bar.
Hyde-Skerritt's first on 21 minutes came courtesy of a defensive error, which allowed him the space and time and fire past Watch and into the roof of the net. The visitors promptly made it two as captain Mark Hughes profited from a corner which wasn’t properly dealt with leaving Gosport with a lot of work to do.
Mick Catlin made a half time change for Gosport as he introduced Max Smith for Sancese.
The young substitute had a superb 45 minutes and inspired his team to move up through the gears and give the visitors something to think about despite their two goal lead.
Smith had a golden opportunity as he found himself in space on the right hand side of the visitors area. His shot was well saved by McCarthy but the offside flag had been raised rendering the chance null and void.
Luke King’s 66th minute strike narrowly cleared the bar as Gosport made their visitors work hard without really finding a way back into the game.
The contest was effectively settled with a second for Hyde-Skerritt - a beautifully struck shot leaving Lewis Watch with no chance as it curled over the prone keeper and in off the underside of the bar.
Gosport did eventually break through as Onwauchwu’s header sailed past McCarthy after connecting with Wooodward’s cross. Lewis Watch produced a stunning save to deny Bishops a fourth goal as palmed substitute Owusu’s blistering drive away.
Despite the result, Non-League Day had drawn a respectable crowd and optimism remains high amongst Boro's supporters.
As the saying goes, "tThe night is darkest just before the dawn". For Mick Catlin and his players, it is as dark as it gets but they'll be watching for the first rays of sunlight. Today they proved they have the character to hang in there and do exactly that.
GOSPORT: Watch, Sancese (Smith 46), Medway, Lis, King, Sanders, Page, Buse, Onwauchwu, Woodward & Watts. SUBS NOT USED: Haddlesey & Saidy.
B.STORTFORD: McCarthy, Casey, Tumwa, Hughes (Moncur 70), Ekiepta, Robinson, Hyde-Skerritt, Hatton (Wescott 89), Akinyemi, Williams (Owusu 70) & Foxley. SUBS NOT USED: Richefond & Rogers.
Updated 08:05 - 9 Oct 2017 by Site Manager
PICTURE: Tom Phillips