CARL Macauley described defeat for Witton Albion at Coalville Town as one of his most testing days as a manager.

His team could not make the most of an opportunity to claim top spot in the Northern Premier League following a 2-1 reverse – their first on the road this season.

A side already shorn of goalkeeper Calvin Hare and Prince Haywood, arguably the promoted club’s most influential player to date, was forced to reshuffle again inside half an hour after Matty Devine succumbed to an injury.

“That was tough,” rued Macauley afterwards.

“We were constantly juggling things to try and get the system right, and there was plenty of discussion between us about how to do that.

“It took a while, and in the closing stages of the first half we were just happy to absorb what they threw at us.

“Circumstances conspired against us a bit, and losing a player of Matty’s quality is always going to hurt you.

“We changed shape more than once, and went with a three-man defence later on when we were chasing an equaliser.

“We improved, but not enough.”

Witton fell behind in the sixth minute when Tom McGlinchey met Nat Watson’s perfect cross with his head inside the six-yard box.

However Rob Hopley smuggled Will Jones’ assist over the line from close range shortly afterwards to level.

Coalville’s captain Steve Towers then scored a decisive goal early in the second period when he was left unmarked to meet Blair Anderson’s corner.

Albion almost pinched a point when Steven Tames’ shot skimmed the crossbar, but they were relieved too when substitute Massiah McDonald fluffed two glorious chances at the other end.

Macauley added: “I can’t fault the lads’ effort, and we just fell short.

“We hung in there as long as we could, and our spirit kept us in the game.

“It didn’t happen for us in front of goal, and I’ve no complaints about the result – they edged it.”