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Robinson reads the riot act as he blasts ‘embarrassing’ capitulation in Winchester draw

Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson read the riot act after his side threw away a lead for the seventh time this season in a disappointing 2-2 draw with Winchester City in midweek.

The Crusaders had looked to be in cruise control after goals from Brad Hooper and Conor McDonagh – his 14th in the league this term – put them 2-0 up and on course for a fourth win in their last five. However two former Hungerford players came back to haunt their old club. Substitute Conor Lynch, who endured an unhappy spell at Bulpit Lane last season, pulled one back with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining before Warren Bentley, a former fan favourite in West Berkshire, headed the visitors level three minutes later.

And Danny Robinson blasted his side's inability to hold onto leads after the Crusaders dropped points from a winning position for the second time in four days.

Conor McDonagh made it 2-0 but the Crusaders conceded two late goals against Winchester City. Picture by Phil Cannings
Conor McDonagh made it 2-0 but the Crusaders conceded two late goals against Winchester City. Picture by Phil Cannings

"It's embarrassing," he said.

"We've been in this position in seven different games. It's far from acceptable, it's far from the standards we set and it's a long way from what we want to be doing.

"We come so far and get so close, yet we fall away at the end – it hurts, it really hurts.

"We were in total control of the game – total control. Then one goal goes in and it falls like a pack of cards. They could've won it at the end, I thought they should've had a penalty.

"I can't keep saying my mind boggles, because it's happening more and more. We should've been sat here with six points this week, and we're sat here with two."

Hungerford have forfeited a lead of at least two goals on three separate occasions since they drew 3-3 with Hayes and Yeading on September 23, having been 3-1 up with five minutes to go. The Crusaders had to settle for a 3-3 draw at Sholing last month despite leading 3-0 at half time, and conceded a 91st minute equaliser in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Hanwell Town. And Robinson feels his side – who have lost 14 points when leading with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining this term – are finding it mentally challenging to keep their noses in front following a succession of late goals against them.

He said: "We panicked. After the first goal went in we tried to make some changes but the second goal came straight after.

"We let a side that we are physically bigger, physically taller than win two free headers in our box. It's criminal, absolutely criminal.

"I'm not making excuses for my players tonight – that's on them. I'll take responsibility, of course I will, but that is far from what I expect from my players."

Goalkeeper Rob Brown, who signed on a dual registration-deal from Royal Wootton Bassett to cover for the injured Ryan Clarke, made an assured debut while there were typically impressive performances from Joe Shepherd, Conor McDonagh and Adulai Sambu. However, Robinson is demanding more from the rest of his squad.

"It's the same names each week, it can't always be them," he said.

"I've been singing the praises of Jack Wright but he gives a silly free-kick away that leads to their goal. He gave the penalty away Saturday. He's a good, good player and he's going to get better, but he's got to learn.

"The same players are giving us 8/10 each week. Conor, Elis (Watts) – although I didn't think he played well tonight – and I thought Joe Shepherd was probably our best player again. I need other players to stand up."

Robinson is hopeful he'll have 41-year-old goalkeeper Ryan Clarke back for Saturday's visit of Truro City in the FA Trophy second round. And the Crusaders boss wants the rest of his side to take more responsibility if Town are to have more luck holding onto leads in future.

He said: "Ryan's had a really bad dead leg and there's not much you can do for that, but we're hoping he might be back. I thought Rob did really well and we have to say thank you to Wootton Bassett and Paulton for letting us borrow him.

"It's hard, because for the majority of the last two games we've been the better side. We've conceded from two set-pieces and a penalty, so we haven't been carved open.

"We want to be able to defend our box better, but something's going wrong because people aren't taking responsibility."

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