Steve Poulton felt his Hayling side failed to heed the pre-match warnings as Blackfield & Langley sent them crashing to a 4-1 defeat at the College Ground.
The Humbugs conceded in the first minute and things went rapidly downhill from there.
The title favourites eased into a 4-0 lead inside 30 minutes thanks to two goals apiece for Ekow Elliott and Kevin Gibbens.
Hayling made a better fist of it after the break – with Jack Salter-Vaile pulling a goal back with a stunning long-range volley.
But there was no hiding Poulton’s disappointment about the first-half performance.
‘You can prepare a team as much as you like before the game but it’s up to the players to take things on board,’ he said.
‘They had been warned about everything that went wrong in the first half.
‘Teams like Blackfield have the ability to punish your mistakes and we conceded three sloppy goals. It wasn’t pleasant.
‘I didn’t want the possibility of it becoming a cricket score, so I set the side up more defensively at half-time and gave the lads the challenge of winning the second half and restoring a bit of pride.
‘They dug themselves out of a hole but it’s the only positive.’
– NEIL MARSHALL