WOMEN'S NSW NATIONAL PREMIER LEAGUE
Illawarra Stingrays coach Graham Shaw conceded the month his side spent away from the pitch may have caused them to fall into "holiday mode" after their third straight defeat on Sunday.
Undefeated ladder-leaders Macarthur Rams handed the 2012 runners-up a 5-1 drubbing to leave the Stingrays without a competition point since their return from a 29-day absence.
The match was the club's third in 10 days, with their job getting no easier with another fixture against Northbridge scheduled for Wednesday night at JJ Kelly Park.
Shaw hopes once that match has been completed the club can finally return to their regular routine for the remainder of the campaign.
"If we can get a result against Northbridge we will then have one training session before we take on Blacktown on the weekend," Shaw said.
"Then it starts getting back towards a bit of a normal pattern.
"We can get our training two nights a week and work on the things that we have identified over the past couple of weeks that we need to get stuck into."
The Stingrays had started the season with two victories but have now slid to eighth on the ladder after losses to the Rams, North West Sydney Koalas and Sydney University after the month off.
"The break that we were forced to have has had a bigger effect on us than I anticipated ... and the players anticipated ... in the fact that our fitness has dropped off and we might have went into holiday mode a little bit," Shaw admitted.
"Mentally we are not sort of switched on in games where we should be.
"It is tough in the sense that our opposition are a third of the way through their season, while we virtually have to start again."
Despite losses to key title contenders, the Stingrays boss remained adamant there was ample time for the club to turn things around.
"Confidence is down in the sense that we have lost three on the trot now," Shaw said.
"But the girls still have the belief that if we can get back to a bit of normality, we can go out there and beat any team when we are playing our best football."