Kerry Hardwell was critical of Rustington’s performance - despite seeing his side end 2018 with a comprehensive victory.
Chris Darwin struck twice, while skipper Steve Kirkham and Jack Anderton also netted as Blues were emphatic 4-1 winners over Ferring in the SCFL Division 2 clash.
The win leaves second-placed Rustington just a point off leaders and rivals Angmering Seniors in the battle for the title.
However, Hardwell insisted performances will have to improve from their showing against struggling Ferring if they are to be in with a chance come the end of the season.
“It was a lacklustre performance against hard-working, young Ferring side,” Hardwell said.
“The first-half performance was the worst we’ve played since I’ve been at the club.
“I don’t know if that’s not having a game for two weeks or the fact the boys over indulged in the Christmas food and drink, but if we are to go on and challenge for honours this season attitudes and performances will have to improve.
“But all in all it’s been a great start this season for me as manager as we remain unbeaten so far in all competitions.
“The boys have done everything asked by myself Jon (Tucker; assistant manager) and Mark (Rowland; coach), if they continue to do that it could be another great season for the club.”
Rustington were well below their best but still led 3-0 at half-time.
Darwin was at the double while Kirkham also struck to all but put the match past struggling Ferring.
The visitors have won just one of their 16 league matches and came up well short against the Blues.
Anderton headed a fourth for Rustington soon after the restart. Blues were unable to preserve a clean sheet, though.
Struggling Ferring were awarded what looked to be a harsh penalty in the closing stages. Nkanyiso Mbambo gave the visitors a consolation to cheer on a day to forget for them.
Rustington will be looking to maintain their title push in 2019 and welcome Upper Beeding for their first game of the new year on Saturday.
RUSTINGTON: Nash; C.Bennett, John, Anderton, Ryder, Peters, Jenkins, Brown, Kirkham, Irish, Darwin. Subs: O.Miles, Llewellyn, Paraficz, Edwards.
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