Woodhouse United boss Rhys Gibson will appeal for his players to give their all for the rest of the season after bizarrely asking two of his own team to leave the field on Sunday.
United were at home to title-gunning VASA in Division One of the Rochdale Sunday League and a 2-1 interval scoreline in favour of the visitors gave no indication of the drama to come.
Woodhouse conceded a third after the break before Marc Walters was sent off for remonstrating with the referee, who had taken no action when the midfielder appeared to be kicked after playing the ball.
Joe Whitham reduced the deficit immediately after but Gibson said the dismissal had still “killed the game”.
VASA romped to a 9-2 win, but only after Woodhouse had been reduced to eight men after Callum Hallinan and Jordan Mirza had left the field.
Gibson said that with defeat seemingly inevitable, the talented pair had started messing around.
Hallinan had tried to catch a cross into the Woodhouse penalty area - surprisingly no penalty was given - and his friend Mirza had also began to lark around.
“They were having a laugh, they didn’t care,” said Gibson.
“I was not having it - they were taking the mickey out of all of the other lads.”
Gibson said he had gone onto the field and asked the pair to leave. “I had eight guys who were working their backsides off and they were making a mockery of it,” he added.
Gibson said he had been embarrassed about the actions of the pair against useful opponents and had apologised to his other players at the end.
“I told them I would rather have eight players giving 110 per cent,” he said. “I don’t think that even with 11 we would have beaten VASA.”
Gibson still hopes Hallinan and Mirza will continue to play for the team and plans a clear the air meeting before Sunday’s game at home to Duke Of Wellington on Sunday.
Gibson, in his first season in charge, is hoping the players will pull together in the closing games to get enough points to ensure safety.