Littlehampton Town Football Club were dealt a harsh lesson in Mitchell Hand’s second game in interim charge last night.
A perfect hat-trick from former Golds forward Alex Laing, along with a brace from Jack Langford and a solitary strike from Max Miller, saw Southern Combination League Premier Division leaders Haywards Heath Town run out comprehensive 6-0 victors at The Sportsfield.
Signs were promising for Hand after Golds came from a goal behind to take a point at home to Newhaven in his opening game in charge just three days earlier.
For Littlehampton –currently bottom – a meeting with runaway leaders Haywards Heath always looked tricky but Hand wanted to see more fight from his team.
He said: “There is losing and there is losing, this was a tough one.
“Haywards Heath are by far the best team in this league, I told the boys how sharp and clinical they would be going into it – they were exactly that. They’re one of the best sides I’ve seen in this league for a long time, so hats off to them.
“Although we were missing a few players, our team looked strong on paper, which makes the fact we were only in the game for 15 or 20 minutes so disappointing. It will take this team time to gel, as it always does.
“I also showed some naivety as I changed formation to allow for our missing players, so the players can’t take full blame.”
“Unfortunately time isn’t on our side and I’ll be looking for a response on Saturday.”
Golds handed debuts to dual-signed Horsham duo Matt Axell and Alex Duncan.
Littlehampton had a strong looking starting line-up but were quickly dismantled by leaders Haywards Heath.
Laing, who started the season with Golds, got the opener on ten minutes, then added another five minutes later. Langford netted his first Heath goal as they were 3-0 up inside the opening half-hour.
Laing proved a thorn in Littlehampton’s side, completing a 27-minute, perfect hat-trick eight minutes before the break.
Langford notched a fifth soon after the restart and Miller rounded off the scoring seven minutes from the
Golds have a chance to put things right when they welcome fourth-placed Eastbourne Town on Saturday.
Hand knows time is running out for his team and wants to pick up his first win at the third time of asking.
He added: “Hopefully we’ve all learnt something from the Haywards Heath game and can start to move forward on Saturday.
“I know the size of the task is massive and I know that especially with the upcoming games.
“The problem in football is, just as winning games becomes a habit, so is losing. We need to break that habit as soon as possible.”
LITTLEHAMPTON TOWN: Hendrick; Ducan, McKay, Bromage, O’Hagan; Axell, Garnham; Sharp, Pattenden, Newhouse; Cole. Subs: Amoo (Pattenden, 61), D,Hand (Cole, 61), M.Hand, Chaplin, Sparks.