Wakehurst manager Ian Gregg insists his players must “roll up their sleeves” in their battle to get away from the relegation zone in Belfast Telegraph Championship Two.
The Ballymena men suffered their fourth successive defeat in the League on Saturday when they went down to a 2-1 reverse by Sport & Leisure Swifts at Mill Meadow.
“There is now an acceptance that we’re down there in a relegation scrap and we have to roll our sleeves up and fight our way out of it,” Gregg told Times Sport.
“We’re in a bad run at the minute but it’s not a hopeless cause by any means.
“We have enough games in hand to get ourselves up the table but we have to start putting points on the board quickly.
“We’re third from bottom, which isn’t where we would want to be, but there is still a lot of football to be played,” added the manager.
It was a makeshift Wakehurst side, missing several regulars, who lined up against title-chasing Swifts and the Ballymena men made a poor start, conceding a goal inside five minutes.
Not for the first time this season, it was a set-piece which proved Wakehurst’s undoing as a corner wasn’t cleared, resulting in the visitors converting from close range.
But after playing second fiddle in the first half, Wakehurst showed more purpose after the interval and equalised with an excellent goal as Jordan Lemon’s cross from the right was met with a bullet header by the in-rushing Ryan Young.
Young, who has played most of the season at right-back but who was pushed into midfield on Saturday, came close to putting Wakehurst ahead when his effort came back off the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten, while he also screwed another shot wide.
But just as it looked as though Wakehurst might go on to claim their first league win since November, they were hit with a late blow as the west Belfast side grabbed the winning goal with five minutes left.
“It was disappointing to lose the game late on but there was some encouragement to be taken from the performance,” said Gregg.
Wakehurst have another tough assignment this Saturday when they travel to another of the promotion-chasing sides in Championship Two, Limavady United.