Lincoln City manager David Holdsworth has called for “radical changes” around the club’s footballing ethic, after the Imps’ latest defeat on Tuesday night.
Holdsworth’s first home game in charge saw City crash to a 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying round replay at Sincil Bank, despite having taken the lead.
And City’s fourth manager in as many years felt the players only had themselves to blame for a loss that puts several questions over the club’s future in the conference.
“We haven’t got time to dwell on things,” Holdsworth said. “We’ve got to make radical changes to get ourselves in the position we are in.
“I think any manager would say, have we been beaten by real craft? No, we’ve beaten ourselves.
“Right now we’ve got a few too many soft touches and it’s been looming around this dressing room for a long time.
“We should take responsibility, and unfortunately this club has seen a lack of responsibility on the pitch and we got to change that ethic.”
City looked intent on the win at least in the first half, and it showed as they took the lead on 20 minutes through Sam Smith, who finished off some excellent play down the flanks from Gavin McCallum and Nicky Nicolau.
However, Alfreton were quick to respond and equalised through Anton Brown within seven minutes of going down.
Eventually it was young goalkeeper Nick Draper who was guilty of a second half error, bringing down Anthony Wilson in the box just on the hour mark.
Nathan Jarman slotted the resulting penalty home with ease, with Alfreton hanging on against a veritable barrage of City attacks to finish victorious and earn a first round clash against Carlisle United.
Holdsworth admitted the time for playing beautiful football was long gone for City, who are lying fourth from bottom in the Blue Square Bet Premier League, facing a clash against Barrow at the weekend.
“I’m not interested in a team of footballers,” he said. “Because right now we don’t need footballers; we need horrible, gritty and nasty people to start coming through that door and get on that pitch.
“If you’re nice, you get nowhere in football. I’m looking for men. And I can see why this club’s in this position.
“I’m not here to vilify anybody but I can see why we’ve conceded goals this season.”
Match Report: Lincoln City 1 – 2 Alfreton Town
Alfreton Town booked their place in the FA Cup first round proper with a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Lincoln City in their qualifying replay at Sincil Bank.
Sam Smith put the Imps ahead midway through the first half after an expert assist from Gavin McCallum, but Alfreton were on level terms through Anton Brown just seven minutes later.
And in a second half dominated by the visitors, Nathan Jarman fired home from the spot after keeper Nick Draper had brought down Anthony Wilson.
Alfreton hung on for the win, and will now face off against Carlisle United in the first round proper clash, scheduled to take place on the weekend of November 12.
Alfreton started the brighter of the two, their first chance a fourth-minute corner that flew dangerously across the box, but City were soon in their stride as Mitchell Nelson’s long throw from the right was headed over by Adam Watts.
The sides continued testing each other, with Alfreton’s Jake Moult sending a dangerous free kick over from the right that Smith did well to head away.
And Smith was in the thick of things yet again, this time to put city ahead on 20 minutes.
Quick feet from McCallum down the left saw him deliver an inch-perfect cross, Smith using his head to power past Dan Lowson in the Alfreton goal.
Alfreton responded as Nathan Jarman floated the ball in from the left but Moult could only head over.
However, the visitors had sniffed blood and on 27 minutes, Leigh Franks’ long throw saw Brown flick a near-post header over Draper to restore parity.
Draper then turned hero for City as he saved expertly from Theo Streete’s close-range attempt, before Alan Power was booked for a dangerous slide on Franks in the minutes leading up to half-time.
Alfreton had the first chance just after the restart as Anthony Wilson was fouled 25 yards out, but Jarman’s curling free-kick narrowly went wide.
Chances came thick and fast as Jordan Hall crossed beautifully for Streete but Draper saved the header comfortably, while McCallum twisted and turned before curling a left footer from 20 yards, only for an outstretched Lowson to make the save.
Alfreton were at last ahead on the hour mark as Wilson’s darting run was rudely halted by Draper in the box. The City keeper was subsequently booked and Jarman slotted the resultant penalty home with ease.
The visitors quickly put fresh legs into play, bringing on Josh Law and James Ellison to replace Franks and Wilson respectively, while City brought Francis Laurent back from the recovery list to replace Power, and Kyle Perry on for Nicky Nicolau.
Josh O’Keeffe then made way for Jamie Taylor, with just over nine minutes remaining and with City desperate for the equaliser, John Nutter’s 84th minute free-kick found Laurent but the header was superbly tipped over by Lowson.
Alfreton’s evening was slightly soured by Jake Moult’s second yellow for kicking the ball away, but it mattered little as the visitors finished victorious after the final whistle and the boos rang around Sincil Bank.