HALESOWEN Town boss Rob Smith has accused his players of lacking fight following their heavy defeat at relegation rivals Hitchin Town.

The Yeltz lost 5-1 last Saturday despite taking the lead in the contest and slipped to second from bottom in the Southern League Central.

The new manager pulled no punches when assessing his side's showing.

He said: "For the first 30 minutes it was the best we have played since I've been here.

"We should have been three up even playing against the wind. The signs were really bright but we didn't take our chances.

"After that we have conceded some truly horrendous goals from a defensive point of view.

"It's clear to see the heads had dropped and the players had thrown in the towel.

"We had a lack of fight and that is unacceptable. The alarm bells are ringing because we are in a relegation battle and won't be getting out of it without that fight.

"It's the minimum we require and it's not there.

"There were five or six lads that I've brought in that were on the pitch at the time as well, so it is for everyone to take note. I won't accept that from a team of mine and it certainly won't stay that way.

"With the new players we have brought in it means it is going to take time to settle but we need to show more."

Halesowen now face another key clash when they go to fifth-from-bottom Lowestoft this Saturday.

That will be followed by the much-anticipated Boxing Day derby with rivals and league leaders Stourbridge.

Smith added: "Saturday is a massive game for us now. There is still time for some of the players to prove they have that ability to battle and that will to win.

"Some will be lucky enough to be playing again this weekend because we haven't been able to bring anyone else in since then. They need to start producing.

"This club is in a really good position off the field and should be in a position to be challenging next season. It's vital that we stay in this league.

"The Stourbridge game should take care of itself to some extent. The players should be able to be motivated for that without any help.

"It is a game we're looking forward to though. It's a big occasion for everyone."

"The other games either side of that are the really big ones for us. That's when we need to see their motivation."