Uppingham Town suffer heavy home defeat against Netherton United in Peterborough League Premier Division
Manager Ryan Hunnings admitted an ever-increasing list of injuries and unavailabilities finally caught up with his Uppingham Town side on Saturday as they were hit for six by perennial Peterborough League Premier Division title challengers Netherton United.
Town were without more than half of their regular starting line-up and, despite taking the lead, were hit by a double whammy of goal flurries by their Peterborough visitors.
Netherton netted a quick-fire brace before half-time to take full control of the contest before scoring three further times in seven second half minutes to seal Town's fate.
Hunnings commented: "We had so many players missing and our squad was too thin to cope.
"I don't want to use that as an excuse because Netherton were brilliant but it was a factor.
"Netherton are the best side we have played this year. They played really good football while we always looked like we had a mistake in us.
"We had players missing who had played the most minutes for us this season and had to replace them with players who were getting their first minutes and the fitness told."
Town were already missing the injured Tom Hubbard, Rob Montgomery and Corey Wildman while Danny Dumford won't be returning from his travels until next month.
Fellow absentees included Callum O'Berg, Charlie Dalby and Martin Turiccki while James Howe played despite being ill all week.
They also suffered a further blow during the game by losing Dill Mullineaux who is likely to miss the rest of the season with torn ankle ligaments.
Netherton created the early openings with Robbie Ellis and Chris Down both going close before Zack Fisher fired an effort against the crossbar.
The visitors were then punished for some poor defending from a corner as Will Thomas gave Town a lead they held until five minutes before half-time.
Tom Randall brought Netherton level before Fisher put them ahead and then went to complete his hat-trick with a second half brace despite the best efforts of stand-in Town goalkeeper Jamie Binley.
Ellis and Richard Baines were also on target as table-topping Town suffered their third defeat of the season.
Hunnings added: "We have been struggling with injuries for the past few weeks and it finally caught up with us on Saturday. The players we were missing are massive ones for us.
"We will have to look to strengthen because we need to make sure there's enough depth in the squad."
Town are hoping O'Berg, Dalby and Turiccki will return for Saturday's derby duel at Ketton, but goalkeeper Hubbard - who is now free of suspension - will remain sidelined after having an operation following his broken nose against Tydd a fortnight ago.
Hunnings continued: "We've got to push on again and look for a positive result on Saturday.
"Ketton had a great win on Saturday so they will be fired up for it. We need to be treating them like we would a top of the table side."
Uppingham: Binley, Cleaver, Bains, Henshaw, Hibbitt, Thomas, Spencer, Porter, Howe, R Forster, Mullineaux. Subs used: J Forster, Godfrey.