Alfreton Town manager John McDermott admitted the Reds were beaten by the better side and blasted some pathetic home defending as they went out of the FA Trophy 2-0 at the Impact Arena to Northern Premier League leaders Altrincham.
Two early goals were crucial in the third qualifying round tie as Altrincham, enjoying something of a renaissance after successive relegations, put the Reds on the back foot from the start.
Former Alfreton winger John Johnston was virtually unplayable and set up the opening goal in the eighth minute.
Jordan Hulme sent him down the right and his cross turned into his own net by Marcus Marshall.
Eight minutes later the Robins doubled their lead through a soft penalty after Max Harrop’s cross struck Marshall on the arm, with Johnston converting from the spot.
The National League North hosts were unlucky when Craig Westcarr hit the woodwork as they tried to fight back, but the manager said the Reds had too many passengers.
McDermott said: “The damage was done in the first half.
“Credit to Altrincham, they were a better team than us today.
“We got done in the areas where l thought we might.
“We were light today with the selection, but even then we were poor — lack-lustre.
“It was a bit like (the performance at) FC United of Manchester away in the second half again .
“There was no pressing with any intent up front, no pressing from behind, and then we were just holding hands near enough at the back.
“They were brighter on to things, read things better, were quicker while we just huffed and puffed and then gave away horrendous goals.
“It was absolutely pathetic.”
Westcarr’s shot rebounded off the upright from a Ryan Jennings throw with 20 minutes remaining.
Either side of that chance, Jennings saw two rasping drives blocked.
However, chances were generally few and far between for Alfreton, with Tom Allan twice heading wide at the back post from respective deliveries by Brendon Daniels and Westcarr either side of half-time.
Later in the game Westcarr had a decent header repelled by visiting keeper Antony Thompson.
However, it was Johnston who stole the show for the visitors and he should have scored at least three himself, but Chris Elliott in the Reds goal presented one obstacle that the winger could not readily overcome.
Talking about Altrincham’s first goal, McDermott said: “lt wasn’t the greatest ball in the box, but within 10 seconds the ball was in the back of our net.
“It was just not good enough.
“The second goal probably was a penalty.
“The reaction is to put your hands up to your face — sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.
“But it doesn’t matter, we weren’t at it — we were just poor on the ball.
“What disappointed me was the closing down to press them, which we did not do — they had too much time on the ball.
“Today we had six or seven passengers.
“I gave them a rollicking at half-time, changed our shape a bit and we were a touch better.”
McDermott pointed out that his side did have chances.
“Westy [Craig Westcarr] hit the post and Jenno [Ryan Jennings] had a shot blocked by his own man,” he said.
“You think maybe if they had gone in, but it would just have papered over the cracks — we didn’t play well today.”
ALFRETON: Elliott; Marshall [Johnson h/t], Shiels, Allan, Keane, Platt, Disley, Everington, Daniels [Jennings 49], Westcarr, Robertson [Sharp h/t].
Other subs: Hinchley, Brough.
ALTRINCHAM: Thompson; Densmore, Hampson, Hannigan, Harrison, Moult, Johnston, Harrop [Sheridan 69], Hulme, Poole [Peers 12], Hancock [Taylor 86].
Other subs: Bembo-Lita, Walsh.
Referee: Ricky Wootton.