RONNIE Sharp slammed the number of games being forced upon Highland League sides after Nairn County went out of the North of Scotland Cup to Brora Rangers in what was their NINTH outing in a little over a month.
Sharp believes supporters are being short-changed with the number of fixtures that are being crammed into the calendar impacting upon the quality on display on the pitch, with his charges having played eight league games already. Only five seasons ago, it was November 24th before County had clocked up the same number of league outings.
"It is spoiling the football all together," he declared. "I do not know what is going to happen with the league with this but we have played nine times already this season, which is ridiculous. You have no time to get boys back for the next game if they pick up knocks. And we had to use this competition as a way of getting other boys fit because we cannot train properly through the week with all of the midweek games."
Sharp saw his much-changed team compete with their highly-fancied opponents until Mark Nicolson's deflected free kick gave the visitors the lead just before the hour-mark.
That knocked the stuffing out of the hosts with Craig Campbell notching a double before Zander Sutherland swept home a fourth in what was a low-key encounter at Station Park.
"We tired in the second half but I thought the first half was pretty even," Sharp said. "We had quite a lot of boys playing who had not played a full game for a while. We had to get game time into them somewhere though so we chose the North Cup to do it. That meant that we tired and our younger players who play regularly are tiring as well because there are far too many midweek games."
"Our concentration went and that is the main problem at the moment but the good thing is that we got game time into some players who needed it. We had a completely different defence tonight because Callum Maclean and Adam Porritt were unavailable. We were also without Kenny McKenzie in the middle of the park and a lot of the other players are carrying knocks from playing too many games."
He added: "I was really happy with the first half. But we never really recovered from the deflected free kick off the wall for the opening goal. We then lost two or three quick goals after that and the heads went down a wee bit but that is understandable with a young team because they get frustrated, which led to us losing our shape a little bit after that."
Keith are the visitors to Station Park on Saturday in another quick turnaround as County return to league duty.
"We hope to have one or two back but we have Callum Maclean suspended," Sharp revealed. "He has been carrying a knee injury, so we were not going to risk him tonight. We also rested Ross Naismith and we will have to wait and see on Kenny McKenzie but Adam Porritt will be back."
Despite being well beaten in their last two matches, Sharp is content with the start his team has made to the new season.
He said: "Going on the corresponding fixtures last year, we only took three points out of them, so we are 13 points better off. We have made progress but we need to keep it going and we then have another Wednesday game coming up after Saturday and that presents another problem."