Bourne Town back in action at the JJ Mac Stadium on Saturday when they entertain Wellingborough Whitworth
Frustrated Bourne boss Rob Middleton has labelled his current selection issues as 'like trying to solve a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle.'
Bourne are back in United Counties League Division One action on Saturday when they entertain Wellingborough Whitworth at the JJ Mac Stadium looking for their first win of the season after back-to-back defeats.
An opening day home reversal against Saffron Dynamo was followed last weekend by a 3-1 away defeat at St Andrews.
The successive losses has sparked a flurry of new signings for the Wakes who handed debuts to three players last weekend.
Frontmen Ian Ward and Carl Benson both made their Bourne bows at the weekend while fellow newcomer Nathan Pickering came on as a second half substitute.
Bourne have further boosted their ranks this week by signing midfielder Harrison Dee from near neighbours Deeping Rangers while striker Jake Showler has dual registered with Peterborough League Premier Division side Stamford Lions.
The signing spree has come about due to a series of injuries and unavailabilities to senior players while two players from last season - Jake Mason and Reece Driscoll - have decided to take a break from the game.
That also scuppered Middleton's pre-season plans after his side had started training more than a month before many of the other United Counties League clubs.
He said: "It's very frustrating at the moment because my plan had been to start pre-season early so we could get organised and settled.
"We obviously lost Zak Munton to Melton Town while both Jake and Reece are taking a break from the game so I'm now having to look at and sign new players after pre-season has finished.
"We are still good on numbers, but it will take a while for it to settle down again so we can start to get some consistency.
"It's fantastic that we've got players who want to play for Bourne Town - I could have just done with them being with us six weeks ago.
"I had hoped we would kick on from last year, but I've always been told the second season is your hardest.
"It's work in progress again because I'm having to include players in the squad who I've probably only seen in one training session. It's like trying to solve a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle."
Dee, Showler, Benson - who has previously played for Ellistown and Kirby Muxloe - and ex-Solihull Moors youngster Pickering are all expected to be in the Bourne squad for Saturday's game.
However, fellow frontman Ward will be missing as he starts the first game of a three-match suspension following his sending off at St Andrews last weekend.
Ward was yellow-carded in the first half for a foul which was immediately followed by a 10-minute sin-binning for dissent.
He was sin-binned again in the second period, for a similar offence, before being red-carded as he walked off the pitch much to fury of boss Middleton who was far from impressed with the standard of officiating.
He said: "Ian's the sort of player who plays the game at 100mph - he's not a dirty player, but he's been booked for making a challenge where their defender has gone down like a sack of potatoes. It wasn't even a foul let alone a yellow card.
"He's then said something to their player about diving and the referee has sin-binned him. The dissent wasn't at an official which was why I thought the ruling had been brought in.
"He's then got shoved off the ball in the second half. There was words between the two players involved and the referee has sin-binned him again.
"Ian has lost his head as he walked off the pitch and the referee has red-carded him, but there was no common sense used in the sin-bins.
"The standard of officiating was atrocious. The referee was not up to the standard and his assistant was permanently in front of our dug-out with the mentality of a traffic warden."
Bourne were also unhappy at the award of St Andrews' second goal which they claimed hadn't crossed the line while Benson had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when the score was at 2-1.
Middleton continued: "John Currall has cleared the ball off the line but, after some half-hearted appeals, a goal was awarded.
"I was in the dug-out so couldn't see, but the reaction of John and Seb Hood - who are two of the most honest blokes I've ever come across in the football - was mental. One of their players, who I know well, also said the ball hadn't crossed the line.
"We then had the most blatant penalty I've ever seen turned down after Carl Benson had been hacked down.
"I don't want to take anything away from St Andrews because they played some very good football, but it was farcical."
More by this authorJames Bedford