ELLESMERE Port fear they may have overachieved and are now struggling to find form in the Cheshire Alliance's top flight.
A defeat to Woodford at the weekend is the latest milestone in an uncharacteristically poor run of form which skipper Phil Ashton is hoping to break.
'Turning this round is up to me,' he said. 'We are going to get the game on Saturday and have a good chat. Things need to be aired so we'll sit down for half an hour and have a heart to heart and gee things up.
'I'll get the reaction from the lads as to what has gone wrong, and as captain I need to refocus them.'
Ashton was unable to play for the first team last weekend, and
Port went into the game missing several other regulars. Woodford proved difficult to shake from the crease, making 243-9 with Andy Sayers taking 4-136. Gavin Colebourn made 93, Rob Burns 45 and Eric Elms ended on 33no.
In reply the home side crashed through Ellesmere Port's batsmen, skittling them for 107ao with new bowler Adam Clinch taking the lion's share of wickets. The 18-year-old former Stockport Grammar player took 7-47.
But Ashton remains positive in the face of current setbacks.
He said: 'We just need a couple of back-to-back wins against teams we have beaten before.
'We have not become a bad team overnight after five good seasons. We are a group of players who have performed very well in the past. It just seems odd that, as a collective, we have not performed now.
'We have now come to one of the better Cheshire leagues. In 2001 and 2002 we had straight promotions so we've had a couple of really good seasons, overachieved and got into a league which is of a good standard.
'But last season we finished in the top five. We won 11 games and went into the last game with a chance of winning the league. The team that won it only won 10 or 11. It is difficult to put our finger on what has happened.'
Now Ashton hopes to begin the transformation starting with Bunbury on Saturday.
'Big alarm bells are ringing,' he said. 'We need to win four out of our last seven games. I am now back for the remaining games and we have done it before so it is not beyond us.
'I'm looking for a response from the guys and that is all you can do. Once they go over the boundary line it is up to them so they need to concentrate on the job in hand.'