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Robinson feels he got it wrong in bruising Bracknell defeat

After winning 7-0 at Bulpit Lane on the opening weekend, Hungerford Town suffered two disappointing defeats on the road in the space of four days.

Having lost 2-1 to well-fancied Chesham on Saturday, boss Danny Robinson made four changes for Tuesday night’s trip to local rivals Bracknell but to no avail, with Hungerford well below their best in a bruising 3-1 defeat.

Mike Baker and Curtis Angell came into the back four, while Matt Partridge occupied a deep-lying midfield role in a bid to make Hungerford harder to break down and Fabio Lopes started on the right flank.

Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson
Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson

However, all three of the goals the Crusaders conceded were avoidable.

Joe Grant opened the scoring with a header after 10 minutes when he outmuscled skipper Rhys Tyler at the back post but Fabio Lopes equalised five minutes later after Robins full-back Ethan Burden headed the ball over advancing goalkeeper Michael Eacott and into his path.

The hosts regained the lead in the 21st minute when Nana Owusu capitalised on a defensive mix-up and beat Ryan Clarke one-on-one and it was 3-1 10 minutes into the second half when Jordan Esprit scored from the penalty spot after Rhys Tyler was adjudged to have tripped him in the box.

Post match, Robinson accepted his side were well below par and suggested his team will need to improve considerably if they're to compete this season.

"We were second best all night," he said.

"I'll always, always, always back my players and I got the team selection wrong.

"I picked the wrong team, I'm big enough and ugly enough to accept that.

"We knew it would be difficult, we knew Michael Eacott's got one of the biggest kicks in football and we had to defend well and battle for second balls.

"We just didn't do it.

"The goals we conceded were shocking.

"The first goal, we let a winger turn and chip a ball to the back post.

"The second goal, we've committed hari-kari on the halfway line, it should never have happened.

"And then the third goal, the referee has made an absolute abomination of a decision because it was never a penalty.

"I'm not going to sit here and blame officials, we need to be better and be better quickly."

Robinson made a subtle change in shape in midfield, with Matt Partridge screening the back four in place of the more forward thinking Brad Hooper, who had provided a link between midfield and the front three in the opening two games.

Mike Baker was preferred to Luke Carnell, with Robinson hoping his pace would reduce the threat from balls over the top, while the experienced Curtis Angell replaced Jack Stanley at left-back, with goalscorer Fabio Lopes the only addition who really managed to make a positive impact on the right of the front three.

Robinson said: "Maybe I overthought it.

"We've got a good squad, this is probably the first time I've had that luxury.

"I saw things on Saturday I was very unhappy with and they needed to be addressed, I'm not going to sit here and accept that performance.

"We knew Bracknell play with a front four so we went with Mike Baker because he's a little bit quicker than Luke Carnell.

"Parts is a very good player, Curtis has been a stalwart for me for a long time and he's a very good defender.

"Fair play to Bracknell, they got to the play-off final last year and are very good at what they do, we couldn't deal with them.

"We tried to pick a side that could go and beat them and I got it wrong.

"It's disappointing but we're only three games in so we're not going to start panicking."

Hungerford’s woes were compounded late on when experienced centre-back Baker was stretchered off, with Robinson admitting afterwards that the club are fearful of a potential break in the defender’s right ankle.

"He went to hospital, we don't know whether it's ligaments in his ankle or if it's broken," he said.

"We're obviously hoping for the best but the first initial signs are not good."

Robinson became one of a host of managers to fall foul of new rules clamping down on dissent when he picked up a yellow card in the first half.

From grassroots to the Premier League, referees are taking a firm stance with managers and players, brandishing cards for pretty much anything from potty-mouthing to protestations.

Robinson, who has always been fairly tolerant towards referees, accepts he'll need to take extra care on the touchline this term but admitted he was frustrated with Tuesday night's officiating.

He said: "100 per cent, we have to think about it.

"I hate to say this, but I thought the referee was awful tonight.

"I try to never lambast referees, I think they've got the hardest job in football, I really do.

"I just felt that every 50-50 went against us, we didn't get a free-kick until the 23rd or 24th minute.

"You do have to be careful, I was actually applauding our player when we got a free-kick but the referee thought I was winding him up and gave me a yellow, that's his decision.

"It was very frustrating and I felt like that kind of summed up the night a little bit."

13th placed Hungerford will be looking to bounce back from successive defeats with the visit of winless Beaconsfield Town this Saturday and Robinson is confident the Crusaders will return to form.

"When the fixtures came out we knew we had a tough start with two difficult away games," he said.

"I've always said that whoever finishes above Chesham will win the league and Bracknell got to the play-off final last year.

"At least they're out the way now.

"We won't make excuses, we haven't been at the races and it's not what we expect from a Danny Robinson side.

"We'll be working hard to come back stronger."

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