Sports surprisingly went down 1-0 to lowly Redditch at the Bee Arena in a Southern League Premier Division Central fixture.
There was consolation in a shock defeat for title rivals Banbury United at St Ives on the same day, but Sports are now four points behind leaders Coalville ahead of a tough trip to fourth-placed Alvechurch this Saturday (December 11), a team that also won 1-0 at Sports recently.
Star forward Dion Sembie-Ferris will miss that game through suspension after getting sent off early in the second-half against Redditch.
Dean insists he’s highly motivated by the challenge of turning his side’s form around and he hopes his players are equally up for the fight.
“I’m invigorated by the challenge,” Dean said. “For years we have been winning game after game and the job is easy then. Don’t get me wrong we are still winning matches and we are in great shape in the league, but we are showing play-off form rather than title-winning form. I’m not looking at what other teams are doing. I’m only interested in our results.
“We have won four of our last six, but we were dreadful against Redditch who came with a gameplan and executed it perfectly, while we were well off it even before we lost Dion. We defended okay, but we didn’t fire up front and not for the first time this season.
“When things aren’t going well for us we don’t react well. We’ve lost three games at home now, all to late goals which suggests a lack of character. The players need to take a long, hard look at themselves. They must want it as much as I do and I’m still very hungry for more success. We have a tough run of games now so we need to be at our best.”
Sports had chances to score first against Redditch with the normally reliable Dan Jarvis missing the best of them, but he was scuppered when clean through by an uneven playing surface which is irritating Dean.
“The club has to sort the surface out,” Dean added. “It’s not helping us at all.”
Young Cambridge United right back Liam Bennett made his debut for Sports on loan against Redditch and walked off with the man-of-the-match prize.
Josh Moreman and Lewis Hilliard are in line to start on Saturday after recovering from injury. Moreman was a substitute against Redditch.