ANGRY Nairn County boss Ronnie Sharp felt the tone for his side's home defeat to Strathspey Thistle was set before a single ball had been kicked.
Sharp attended the SFA Level 1.2 Coaching Course at Dingwall in the morning and as a result, did not arrive at Station Park until just before 2.00 pm. He asked his squad to report for duty at 1.45 pm and was disappointed to arrive and find players yet to turn up.
"Right from the off we were not at it," he exclaimed.
"I could see that when I arrived at the park and the only players who were there were the young ones and Wayne Mackintosh, who was not even playing because of injury. The rest of them trooped in when they wanted."
"That is a sign of an attitude problem - if we stated a time for them to be there then they should have been there. Whether or not they were watching the Old Firm game, I do not know. But it is not on and right from the off the focus was not on the game and that showed."
Sharp saw Adam Macleod break the deadlock for Strathspey on 25 minutes to give the Jags a deserved lead. And just when it looked like Nairn would rally having regrouped at the break, Ryan Macleod headed home the killer second for the visitors two minutes after the turnaround.
Sharp said: "We just were not good enough. Strathspey were by far the better team in the first half. I do not know if a couple of good performances against some of the top teams has led to us thinking we can afford to drop the work rate. The players seemed to play like a group of individuals just looking after their own jobs - that is not on and we will not accept that."
"We have to change things to improve the attitude. We might look to bring in more of the younger boys or there might be other players out there who are available that we can look to bring in. I know it has only been two games but if we cannot break this cycle of the poor attitude then we are only going to go backwards."
County drew a blank for a third game in succession and Strathspey goalkeeper David Aitchison had as quiet an afternoon between the posts as any of his Jags predecessors have enjoyed in any of Thistle's visit to Nairn since their admission to the Highland League seven years ago.
Sharp added: "That is our main problem. We are not putting teams under pressure and we did not look like scoring again today. We do not have the movement and we can teach them at training all we want but if they do not bring it into a game then we are going to struggle."
Top scorer Gary Kerr was red carded in the final minute to compound County's misery as he was shown the red card having clashed with Aitchison in a fair challenge as he looked to latch on to a forward pass.
"I believe it was something said at the referee," revealed Sharp. "We have a depleted squad as it is and will have to do without Gary now as well, which just adds to things. I am hoping that Jamie Mackay might be back from holiday in time to feature on Wednesday night but it is very doubtful."
"It will be more young boys who come in to fill the gaps and I cannot complain about that because the young players are giving me 110 percent. Reece Barton came on today to make his debut and I thought he did really well - he looked more composed than some of our older players."
"At the moment, we are struggling and we need to get players back just to make the squad competitive more than anything, so that players have to do well to get into the team. Just now, nobody is playing well."