GRAYS Athletic boss Jim Cooper described his side’s performance as ‘absolute disgrace’ as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Isthmian North new-boys Cambridge City.

Adam Watkins scored the only goal of the contest as Grays missed out on the opportunity to go level on points with table-toppers Maldon & Tiptree.

And Cooper was seething at the final whistle.

“I thought we were an absolute disgrace,” said Cooper.

“Barring three of the boys in the dressing room, the others should hang their heads in shame.

“They should think seriously about how much they want to play football.

“From the first minute, they didn’t look interested.

“We lumped the ball forward, which we haven’t done all season.

“They’ve got to ask themselves a serious question as to whether they want to play football and win things.

“More importantly to me, they need to ask themselves whether they want to be at Grays Athletic because I won’t accept performances like that.”

Cambridge left Parkside with maximum points thanks to Watkins’ 25th minute effort.

Following a short corner, Watkins evaded a couple of challenges before firing past Grays goalkeeper Danny Sambridge with the aid of the woodwork.

Manny Ogunrinde thought he had levelled matters after the break, but the winger was adjudged to have fouled Cambridge goalkeeper Jamie Head by heading the ball out of the custodian’s clutches.

Substitute Ryan Sharman clipped the crossbar as the visitors went in search for a second goal, but a poor performance from Grays resulted in a solitary goal being enough for Cambridge.

And Cooper was frustrated to see his players ignore pre-match instructions.

Cooper added: “They did not do the corners that they’re aware of and we have had planned from the first game of the season. They did their own thing.

“We worked on a couple of free-kicks, but they did their own thing and it didn’t come off.

“I’ll always tell them that if they do what I ask them to do and I get it wrong, I’ll take responsibility.

“But they were absolutely useless and looked really leggy.

“We might have had too many old players out there because we looked way off it in the first half.

“I’m absolutely livid. All-round, it was a really bad day at the office.”

As a result, Grays were condemned to their first Isthmian North defeat since being beaten by Canvey Island in August.

Cooper will be hoping for a vastly-improved performance when they welcome Bedfont Sports to Parkside for an FA Trophy preliminary round tie.

And Cooper is expected to make changes to his squad.