Sleaford Town manager Jamie Shaw has scotched rumours the club is paying its way out of trouble as their recent revival hit the buffers on Saturday.
Having strengthened heavily on and off the pitch this month, Town followed their first win of the season with a 2-2 draw against Anstey Nomads last Wednesday.
It was a sharp improvement against opponents who had handed out a 9-0 hammering just 10 days before.
But the newly-assembled squad then ran out of steam on Saturday, beaten 4-0 by Leicester Nirvana at Eslaforde Park.
Town had earned their midweek point thanks to goals from new signings Liam Tunstall and Luke Hollingworth, but Shaw refuted claims it was all down to cash.
The accusations must have sounded deeply ironic to Shaw whose squad struggles have largely come down to the absence of a playing budget, unlike many of his UCL Premier rivals.
“I’ve read and heard the various comments that we’re throwing money at staying up,” he said.
“But of the 11 new players in yesterday’s squad, five have stepped up from the Boston Premier League, one hadn’t been playing football this season, one had only been playing for the RAF, and one has just turned 16.
“I think this contributed to yesterday’s performance as the extra intensity of UCL football took it’s toll.
“Our third game in seven days, on a difficult pitch with windy conditions, was just a bit too much, particularly against a side as quick and strong as Leicester Nirvana were.”
Jordan Nelson’s 20-minute hat-trick put the game out of reach by half-time, and despite an improved second half, Nelson made it 4-0 with 10 minutes left.
The first goal came after a catalogue of errors in the Town defence, before Nirvana struck again from the penalty spot.
Town’s miserable first half was compounded when a player was sent to the sin bin for arguing against the penalty, and Nelson capitalised on the man advantage.
“It was a bit of a frustrating end to our little mini revival, with an insipid first half performance our undoing,” Shaw added.
“There were a few harsh words at half-time ,and in the second half we came out and gave a much better account of ourselves, but we missed a couple of chances that may have just put some pressure on.”
With no midweek fixtures for the next month, Shaw will be able to work more with his new players on the training pitch.
“We now have a week to prepare and train for Saturday’s visit to Oadby where we’ll look to resume our attempts to move off the bottom of this league,” he said.
“I believe the lads that have come in have more than the requisite quality to do that when we get everyone fully settled in.”