IT had seemed that things couldn’t get any worse for Boro after Tuesday’s performance - but they certainly did.
The display against Brid on Tuesday was dismal at best, but Saturday’s offering stooped to truely disgraceful.
Paul Olsson gave his side the benefit of the doubt ahead of kick-off, apart from switching Frank Belt to full-back in place of Josh Clayton.
The players certainly didn’t repay his faith though, as Long Eaton left with all the points, and the Boro faithful departed full to the brim with frustration.
Athletic were booed from the park at the final whistle - and rightly so. In fact most of the players had already gone missing by the time the game was brought to conclusion.
The signs didn’t bode well in the early stages, as keeper Tom Woodhead misjudged an early cross, which thankfully rolled wide of the target.
Boro did show some endeavor after this, as Bill Law headed a Graham Botham corner wide, and Belt drilled a free-kick inches wide of the target.
Boro then proceeded to shut down as a team, with any cohesion that they may have had, going missing.
Despite the cries from the bench and the crowd encouraging Boro to play football, they resorted to an unattractive long-ball approach, with every attack being mopped up by Long Eaton’s giant back-line.
Boro’s own defence looked less impressive, and minutes before the break it finally cracked.
Belt conceded a needless free-kick 25 yards from goal and Paul Gamble stepped up to curl beyond Woodhead.
The words weren’t minced in the home changing room at the interval, but the rants did little to warm Athletic up.
Ryan Blott did burst free on the right, but his low shot from an acute angle was comfortably held by Simon Baldwin.
That was Blott’s last contribution, as he was awarded a second yellow card by official Mr Cook for a late challenge on Paul McGinty.
It could have got even worse for the hosts as well, as Gamble was allowed to rise freely in the box, but he directed his header over the bar.
Boro did force one more attack, when a one-two between Belt and sub Joel Hartley, allowed the former in on goal, but the full-back’s low shot was well blocked.
In truth it was Long Eaton, who had the better of the latter moments, but despite a pair of efforts from Gary Breach, they failed to add further salt to Boro’s already gaping wounds.