CARL Macauley says the decision not to rotate his Witton Albion squad “backfired” as his side crashed out of the FA Trophy last night.

Nantwich Town were 5-2 winners in the second round clash at Wincham Park and move on to face National League North side Hereford on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Albion are left to rue not making the most of a positive start that saw Scott Bakkor give them an early lead.

Two Scott McGowan goals gave the visitors a half-time lead which was added to after the break by Ben Harrison, David Webb and Luke Walsh, rendering Rob Hopley’s first Witton goal since April 2019 in injury time immaterial.

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Already without striker Will Jones through injury, Witton also lost defender Steve McNulty and midfielder James Foley to fatigue-related injuries during the match.

“I said to the lads I take full responsibility for the defeat,” Macauley said post-match.

“Why I take responsibility is because we were tired, we picked up injuries and in hindsight, I should have rotated.

“We were thinking about doing it but didn’t and it’s probably backfired on us – Macca (Steve McNulty) has picked up an injury, James Foley has hurt his hamstring, Billy Smart is fatigued.

“With all that, I take responsibility.

“I thought we started the game bright and we deserved the lead, but we gave a soft goal away – Josh Wardle gets caught in possession and should do better.

“We’re a bit deflated off that and it gives them a lift.

“The same lad scores a wonder goal and we were up against it from then.

“We’re asking lads who haven’t had enough minutes to express themselves, so it was always going to be a tough night.

“I’m not going to sit and make excuses – Nantwich were the better side in the end and fully deserved their win.”

One selection decision Macauley feels he did get right was the decision to leave out Jones, who scored in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Bamber Bridge that set up the Nantwich tie.

He was replaced by James Hooper and while the Albion boss was pleased with his display, he admits Jones’ hold-up play in forward areas was badly missed.

“Hoops did ever so well tonight – he’s another who’s lacked minutes but he put himself about,” he said.

“Will was struggling from Saturday and he’s a massive miss to us.

“He’s a handful – people say he doesn’t get enough goals as a striker but he brings different parts to the game. He never lets centre-halves have an easy time.

“We really did miss him but it was either throw him in and risk losing him for four or five weeks or play it safe, and I think we got that one right.”

Witton will resume their Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign against Warrington Town at Wincham Park on Boxing Day.