CIRENCESTER Town have been challenged to toughen up by boss Brian Hughes ahead of their testing trip to Yate Town tonight.
Hughes has been left unhappy with what he has described as 'powder puff' performances in successive defeats to Paulton Rovers and Poole Town.
He gave his squad a frank appraisal of their performance at Poole on Saturday and demanded his team man-up ahead of their test at Lodge Road (7.45pm)
"It's going to be a tough game but we had a brief chat after the game on Saturday, and I admitted that I had perhaps taken my eye of the ball as our last two performances have been weak," Hughes said.
"We try to give the opposition more of a game than we did. But we weren't at our best. Now we need to go to Yate and battle.
"We did it at Cinderford a few weeks ago, but we need to be a bit more resilient than we have done in the last two games, when we were a little powder puff.
"Poole are a good side and we're realistic people at our club and we knew it was going to be a difficult game.
"But we would have liked to have made it a bit more difficult for them than we did and they were much better than we were on the day."
One positive from Saturday's performance for Hughes was the impact of new signing Ricky Allaway, an experienced defender brought to the club to replace departed skipper Matt Sysum.
Hughes had been seeking an experienced replacement for Sysum following the Gloucester-based defender's switch to rivals Evesham United two weeks ago.
But Allaway's arrival has been tempered with the news that striker Sam Collier is set to miss the busy festive fixture program after spraining his ankle at Poole.
Jamie Reid is set to return after missing the trip to Dorset, with Hughes hoping his return helps bring about a change in fortune.
"We had a bad day all round, Sam Collier got a very sore one and will be out for a few weeks with ligament damage and our bus broke down on the way home, so it was a long old day," Hughes said.
"It was an innocuous one. Sam got on the end of a free-kick and forced the keeper into a really good save, but as he landed he went over on his ankle.
"He had to go to hospital as they feared the worst.
"Nothing's broken but it's very swollen, although to be fair he came back with his dad and probably got home before we did!
"Ricky is exactly what we needed after losing Matt Sysum.
"Sys had a big presence for us on and off the pitch and we needed to replace that.
"It took a time for us to get it sorted but having brought Ricky in we're really happy with him.
"Not just on the field, but he will help set the standards for the young lads off the field too."