RICHARD Pears has urged his Exmouth Town players to show their character at St Austell on Saturday after they were 'embarrassed and humiliated' by Budleigh Salterton in the Throgmorton Cup.
Town lost the first-round clash to their local rivals 2-0 in what former Exeter City forward describes as one of the toughest defeats of his footballing career.
And the Exmouth Town manager wants his players to show what they are capable of as they return to league action.
"Obviously, we are embarrassed and humiliated by it, and rightly so," said Pears. "I have had some tough weekends in my footballing career but that was one of the worst.
"It was a very poor performance and Budleigh were excellent – they fully deserved their win, they worked hard and we were very, very poor.
"Our focus is on the league but that performance was not good enough – it was not good enough for our fans, for our committee and for everyone involved with the club.
"St Austell is an absolute must-win game. If we want to do anything in the league this year we have to stay in that top three.
"I will be looking to see if my team has the character to bounce back. When it gets tough is when you really find out about your team."
Pears will have to make do without influential captain Lloyd Gardner, who is on holiday.
Meanwhile, Pete Buckingham says he has switched his attention to another striker after failing to lure Tom Kelly back to Elmore.
The Eagles boss – who watched his side lose 1-0 at Cullompton Rangers on Tuesday – has made a concerted effort to bring the Bovey Tracey striker back to the club he left over the summer as a replacement for the injured James Blake.
But Kelly has chosen to remain at the Moorlanders, and Buckingham has wasted little time in moving for a new target.
"We have lost Blake and he has not been replaced yet, so I have put in another seven days for another striker," he said.
"Tom was caught in two minds. He lives in Torquay and his mates play for Bovey Tracey.
"He likes Elmore but he couldn't make his mind up. I gave him an ultimatum, as the 28 days for him were up, and it is now on the backburner.
"He may well ring me in a month's time and say he made a mistake and wants to join but in the meantime I'm looking elsewhere."
Bovey hammered Holsworthy 6-1 on Saturday in the cup, with a hat-trick from Sam Dicken and strikes from Kelly, Liam Head and an own goal.
They travel to Camelford on Saturday having also played Witheridge yesterday (Wednesday).
Withy won at Camelford 3-1 on Saturday after goals from Jack Langford and forwards Jordan Charran and Steve Ebdy.
And Withy boss Chris Vinnicombe spoke of his relief to see both of his strikers scoring from open play.
"Jordan and Steve aren't really firing yet but it was good for them to get on the scoresheet through open play," he said.
"Steve takes the penalties and Jordan takes the free-kicks, but it was nice to see them both score and hopefully they can go from there."
Cullompton Rangers boss Mike Taylor admit his side's wastefulness in front of goal is frustrating for him – but says he would be more concerned if they were not creating chances at all.
Cully missed a number of chances in their feisty 2-1 win over Sidmouth Town, which they won courtesy of goals from Ash Donahue and Matt Fanson.
"If we weren't creating chances then I would be worried but we are making chance after chance and we are just waiting for the game where we beat someone eight or nine nil," said Taylor, whose side host Bodmin Town on Saturday.
"We absolutely dominated the game on Saturday but so many chances went begging, we just need the confidence boost of putting two or three away.
"Our last two games could have been over after 10 minutes but we missed the chances.
"It also puts more pressure on the defence to keep a clean sheet because they are working so hard not to concede, only for our strikers and midfielders to miss chance after chance."