After watching his side slip to their second 6-0 defeat in just over five weeks, Ely City manager Brady Stone has called on the players to not let their hard work this season go to waste.
The Robins had been in and around the top five for parts of the campaign, but following their home demolition at the hands of promotion-chasing Coggeshall Town on Saturday, now sit 10th.
It follows on from their six-goal defeat to Histon on Boxing Day, with just one victory being picked up since then.
Stone said of the Coggeshall display: “It is very concerning to let six goals in so close together.
“The manner in which we gave away the goals was almost laughable — it was under-10s stuff.
“I hate losing, but I can take it if we have worked hard and given everything, but that did not happen.
“To watch the same thing unfold twice is so disheartening.”
Nevertheless, with 13 matches left to go, there are still plenty of points on offer for Ely to put the two drubbings behind them.
Stone had initially targeted a finish of 14th or above, but considering their positive start, he is hoping for more.
“It is down to us. Do we want to languish down in 15th or 16th? I am sure the lads do not want that,” he said.
“At the start of the season myself and Martin (Grey, assistant) wanted to finish in the top 14 and get at least 60 points.
“But when you get into such a good position, you start to think can we hit 75 or 80 points?
“At the same time you do not want to get too far ahead of yourselves. We do not have a big budget so you have to be realistic.
“But we have shown what we are about and need to get back to that.
“If we can, we should be looking at finishing somewhere in the top 10.”
Next up on Saturday is a trip to a resurgent Long Melford (3pm), who have been in impressive form of late.
The Villagers have got themselves up to 14th position after a string of impressive results, including two wins over Newmarket Town and a 1-0 victory over high-flying Brantham Athletic.
“They are doing really well at the moment and are getting some great results,” said Stone.
“It is always a tough place to go, even more so now they are flying.
“But we tend to do well against them and this gives us the chance to put the Coggeshall result right.
“We have a good group of lads and they know they let themselves down last weekend. Hopefully we can put it right as a group at Melford.”
Ely follow that up on Tuesday evening with a trip to local rivals Soham Town Rangers in the semi-final of the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup (7.45pm).
• There was further disappointment for Stone’s side on Tuesday evening as they crashed out of the Hinchingbrooke Cup at the quarter-final stage.
Visiting Huntingdon Town took the lead at the Ellgia Stadium, but Ely hit back before the break through full-back Daniel Jeffrey.
However, two second-half goals sealed the away side’s victory.