ANDY RITCHIE hailed Andy Booth’s honesty for pulling himself out of the game against Leyton Orient – and the rest of his players’ workrate.
The manager was left frustrated as Town went down to Adam Boyd’s third-minute goal for the Londoners, who went top of League I and left the home side 13th.
Booth had started the previous four matches, all of which Ritchie’s charges won in a spectacular recovery from a run of just one victory in 10.
On Saturday his place went to Luke Beckett, Town’s joint leading scorer with Malvin Kamara, but despite having several decent chances, the striker couldn’t add to his five-goal tally.
“Boothy is an experienced pro who knows his own body and he’s honest enough to say when he’s not right,” explained Ritchie.
“By playing through injuries like his you can make things a lot worse, and hopefully the rest will have helped him.”
Of the match, Ritchie said: “It’s a long time since I’ve seen a game so one-sided. They had one decent opportunity and scored.
“Things had been going for us in previous matches, but in this one we just didn’t get the breakthrough.
“But I can’t fault the players for effort, because they kept going all the way through the game.
“We had enough chances – Luke Beckett could have had a hat trick – but we didn’t put them away and they had a bit of luck in terms of the ball flying in and hitting bodies.
“Credit to Orient, because they worked hard and are top of the table on merit, but we can be positive because we dismantled them but just couldn’t score.”
Ritchie handed a club debut to new Bristol City loan signing Phil Jevons as a 67th-minute substitute for Danny Schofield (Danny Cadamarteri dropped back from striker to left midfield).
“I was mindful of the fact that Phil hadn’t played any first-team football since August, but I wanted to give him a decent chance,” explained Ritchie.
“He made a mark with his first touch of the ball – a great turn and pass out to Malvin Kamara.
“He had three good efforts himself, and with a bit more sharpness might have put one away.
“That will come, and I’m pleased Phil’s here, because he’s a clever player who will give us an extra option.
“He helps keep moves flowing and he’s a proven goalscorer.”
Next up for Ritchie and Co is Saturday’s FA Cup second-round home clash with Grimsby, who had a 3-0 win at Barnet which hoisted them up two places to 20th in League II.
Danny North’s first-half double set Alan Buckley’s side on their way at Underhill.
The striker pounced on a loose ball to put his side ahead after 10 minutes and he doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time, racing away to score.
Substitute Andy Taylor got the third a minute from time.
l Town reserves take on Leicester in a Pontin’s Holidays League match at Hinckley on Wednesday (7.00).