Despite having 16 years experience in national league hockey, Wimbledon’s player-coach Ben Marsden witnessed something new last weekend, and it was not his side’s 7-0 drubbing at the hands of East Grinstead.

With three league games to go, the defeat leaves Wimbledon five points off the play-off places in fifth, while East Grinstead went top with the win.

But despite a poor start to the match, which saw Wimbledon trailing 3-0 at the break, Marsden’s problems were only just about to begin.

“At half-time our goalkeeper [Tom Millington] had a back spasm and couldn’t carry on,” he said.

“It is rare to have a reserve keeper, so we did not really know what to do.

“In the end, we had a kicking back until Ben Harris, an outfield player, could put the pads on, but by then we were 5-0 down.”

He added: “In 16 years I have never known that to happen. Tom was in a bad way after the game, whether he plays again this season is touch and go.

“But we’ll take this on the chin and move on, and we have to credit East Grinstead. Even without the injury to Tom, they were the better side.”

Wimbledon host Loughborough Students this weekend with Chris Baker likely to deputise for Millington, and James Osborn still out with a knee injury.

Marsden said: “The East Grinstead result does not make or break the season, we have three games left against teams we would hope to beat, while Surbiton [in fourth] have got to play East Grinstead and Canterbury.

“All the time it is mathematically possible, we’ll be aiming for fourth spot.”