Racing Club Warwick bowed out of the League Cup with a 3-0 defeat at Walsall Wood on Tuesday night as a heavy schedule continues to take its toll.
With the league clash with Littleton 24 hours later in his mind, Scott Easterlow juggled his squad, with Mike Ellis coming back into the squad for his first game in two months.
However, his options were limited by injuries and the loss of the cup-tied Wade Malley and Lewis Hudson and he saw the loss as something of a blessing.
“In a way it’s good thing we lost the quarter-final as I doubt with possibility of two extra matches we could field competitive sides,” admitted Easterlow, who then saw the match at Littleton called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
“All being told the effort the lads showed was second to none. I couldn’t fault any one of them for their attitude.
“Due to the players available and trying to keep them contained we changed shape and instructed a gameplan.
“For the majority of the game it worked, apart from five minutes before half-time and five minutes after when we switched off.
“It’s so hard for me to criticise my lads, though, as we’ve had three games a week for the last however many weeks.
“Most mistakes aren’t a lack of our ability but tired bodies and minds.”
Wood broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute when Jordan Fitzpatrick headed past Tom Cross.
Just a few minutes into the second half the champions doubled their advantage when Paul Sullivan danced through several Warwick players before firing home superbly.
Walsall Wood wrapped the game up with another Fitzpatrick effort.
n Striker Ben Mackey is returning to his roots by signing for Racing Club for the 2018/19 campaign.
Mackey, 31, who played most recently at Coventry United, started his career at Coventry City and remains the youngest player to play for the first team. He played a massive part in Leamington’s rise up the leagues with 57 goals in 92 games and continued his prolific form at clubs including Brackley, Stourbridge, Hemel Hempstead and St Neots.
He said: “I’ve been away from football for a bit and I’m excited to be coming back to my local club who got me back into football ten years ago after leaving Coventry City and thinking I’d never play again.
“I’m looking forward to joining a strong side with ambitions of winning the league and improving the club on and off the field.”