Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison said he was disappointed with his side’s 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Dunston UTS on Saturday.
Two goals from Malcolm Morien set the Gateshead visitors up for the win, which ended a run of four consecutive victories for the Colliers.
Harmison said: “I’m obviously disappointed that we lost. We started slowly but did well to get back into the game.
“I was frustrated first half that we didn’t work hard enough together as a unit.
“The work rate was OK, but the cohesion wasn’t there.
“We put that right second half and the effort and work rate was good.
“However, I can’t knock the players for what they have put in over the last nine games, of which they have won six and we have played them all in the space of four weeks.”
Harmison believes the schedule is taking its toll.
“There has been a lot of demand on the same players and it’s catching us up a little bit with the injuries which we are picking up,” he said.
“Matty Grieve, Michael Dixon and Andrew Johnson have all collected knocks, and Andrew Bulford also played on despite carrying an injury.
“In recent weeks Ryan Bell and Ben Christensen have both been out, and we are heavily reliant on the same lads who are putting the work in, and because of the games coming thick and fast, it’s starting to catch up with their bodies.
“I thought a bit of tiredness came into our game today whilst Dunston played four games last week.”
Harmison thought a key turning point arrived seven minutes before the break when Dunston regained the lead to make it 2-1.
He added: “Our keeper Conor Grant clearly had the ball in his hands and the Dunston lad kicks it out. It was blatant and the players’ reaction says enough for me, but the referee said he didn’t see it.
“If we had gone in level at the interval and then had the wind at our tail second half, we’d have had a great chance of taking a foothold in the game, and I was expecting to have a really good go at them.
“Instead we were 2-1 behind. When we went down to ten men, although in reality it was nine-and-a-half because Bulford was struggling, I thought we were very, very good.
“We had to be, and the attitude of my players cannot be faulted.”