A few weeks ago whispers could be heard around the Cleo Saul Beveree that come May, Hampton and Richmond Borough FC might find themselves in the play-offs.
However, a chastening defeat to Plymouth Parkway in the FA Trophy, a club that play three divisions below the Beavers, has heralded a disastrous run of results.
Four consecutive league defeats since the start of December, Hampton and Richmond have conceded eleven goals and scored a mere two.
It means that any dreams of promotion to National League have gone the same way as a poorly built dam in the face of an unruly torrent.
According to Beavers manager Gary McCann there are various reasons for their slide in form.
He said: “We had a damaging defeat to Plymouth Parkway that has maybe done more damage than we expected.
“We’ve had some outgoings for different reasons, some by choice on my part, some by the choice of the players, which has derailed us a little bit.
“With the results, the changing room has just lost that little bit of confidence and belief.”
Like many football clubs across all levels, Hampton and Richmond haven’t been helped by COVID.
He said: “We had two separate outbreaks in two different weeks.
“From the 11th of December up until the 28th we’ve only had two training sessions together as a full squad.
“Along with the drop-off in results, we’ve not been able to do as much work on the training pitch as we would like, which makes it hard to arrest this run of form.”
Following the departures of Ryan Gondoh, Sam Cox and the end of Charles Hagan’s loan spell from Sheffield Wednesday, McCann is keen to bolster his squad.
He said: “We’ve got 14, 15 players at the moment which from a squad of 20 at the start of the season shows we’ve really thinned out.
“We really do need four or five new faces in the next week or so.
“We’re looking at improving the spine of the team, in the defence and the midfield.
“I do feel we need another wide player, an offensive player, but it’s in most areas where we are trying to complement really.”
Despite their poor run, McCann is keen to stick to the tactical principles which served his side well at the start of the season.
He said: “We like to be expansive, we aim to create create overloads in the wide areas, and have energy in our full backs who join the attack.
“In transition, if we do turn over the ball, we like our players to be expressive and play with a bit of freedom in the final third.
“My overriding emotion is that with our backs against the wall, we should stick to our own beliefs and be true to ourselves.”
The Beavers next match is a home fixture against 12th placed Concord Rangers.
He said: “We had a bit of a mixed performance against them earlier in the season, we were very poor in the first half, then our second 45 was brilliant, but we couldn’t overturn the two goal deficit.
“They are a side with a lot pace and energy, they play with a spirit and togetherness that’s going to need to be curbed.
“It’s a tough game and one where we really need to put in a good performance and get a result.”
Photo credit: Thomas Lang