James Gray insists St Albans City’s opening 1-0 defeat to Hayes & Yeading and United was a “massive disappointment”.

The Saints had high hopes of getting off to a decent start in the Conference South following last season’s promotion but City produced a poor performance as they were beaten at Clarence Park.

Joint manager Gray could not disguise his frustration and believes his side were not up to scratch in a below-par showing.

Gray said: “It’s a massive disappointment. We played Stevenage last Monday and that was our most accomplished performance during pre-season.

“But then on Saturday we were nothing like that. We were sluggish defensively, poor in possession and didn’t really create anything. It was nowhere near what we’re up to.

“The performance was very far below par which was a shame to come out of the traps like that. We didn’t do anything that we were capable of. We were nowhere near it. In the final third we were very sloppy and kept giving away possession.”

“There weren't really many positives to take from it because we can be a lot better than we were.”

The Saints boss does not expect United to be among the front runners in the division this season but believes his side need to impose their own style on the opposition if they are to be successful.

Gray said: “I would not expect Hayes & Yeading to be one of the top sides this season. But they still came to us and took the three points by being organised and disciplined.

“I think we were the better side but we know we can be 40 per cent better than that which we will need to be.

“We needed to be a lot more brighter and do the things that we're good at like passing and moving at a quick tempo.

“If we want to play the same as other teams by being physical then we are going to get found out.”

City have the chance to put it behind them tomorrow night when they face a trip to Staines Town before visiting Farnborough this weekend. Gray is prepared to make changes and insists the players can have no arguments if they are left out following their display against United.

“We have to put it behind us and make sure we’re a lot better than that,” he said.

“We need to get back on the horse and I’m looking for a massive reaction.

“We need the boys to perform and I just didn’t see any spark or reaction on Saturday. We were far too sloppy in possession and looked toothless. We didn’t really look like creating chances and were very static so there’s a lot to work on.

“It’s up to those 11 players to keep the shirt and if we make wholesale changes then they can't complain about it.”