Jamie Fullarton blamed fixture congestion and fatigue for FC Halifax Town’s lacklustre defeat at struggling Torquay United.
Town were never a threat in Saturday’s game, failing to hit the target with a single effort and rarely causing their hosts serious concern at the back.
In fairness to The Shaymen, Saturday’s match was their second in less than 48 hours and their fourth in eight days.
And Fullarton was in no doubt that punishing schedule was the root cause for his team’s loss.
“Four games in a week would be a demand of any club of any size at any level,” he said after the game.
“The schedule has been manic and demanding. Four games in a week is, I think, something which was just over the edge for us. Maybe we underperformed off the back of that.
“It is something that we had no control over, something that the league decided, but coming into a week against two sides in the top three and another team that is above you, then an eight-hour journey to the fourth game the day before – to come away with two wins, a draw and one defeat is exceptional.”
Jamie Reid’s strike in the 58th minute was the difference on the scoresheet, but in all honesty the relegation-threatened hosts probably should have had more. But for a fine goalkeeping display by Sam Johnson they would have done.
“It’s not about singling out players,” continued Fullarton. “Sam contributed to the game but today we underperformed.”
Defeat drops Town to 14th, while Torquay remain 22nd having given themselves a slender lifeline with which to escape the drop.
The Shaymen’s cause was also not helped by Ben Tomlinson’s second-half dismissal for two yellow cards.
Nevertheless, Fullarton was quick to dismiss claims his players lacked motivation, citing an otherwise productive few days for the club.
He said: “It is a combination of factors that have impacted on this performance, but I don’t think you can question motivation.
“I think today was an example of maybe one game too many for us this week.
“It’s not about motivation, it is about recovery and preparation. The Gateshead game on Thursday was one of three games that had been played in the five days previous.
“It is two defeats in 11, which puts it into context, and seven points in a week from four games is fantastic.
“It is great credit to the players, so I don’t think there is a question over their motivation, application or attitude.”
Speaking on Tomlinson’s two yellow cards – both of which were given for hefty challenges – Fullarton declined to go into detail until he had reviewed the incidents.
He said: “The referee has seen it and he was closer than I was. I like to give opinions on major incidents in games after I have seen them again.”