FACING the league leaders Ashford United in difficult foggy conditions proved a challenge too far for a hard-working Tunbridge Wells side.
The Wells required a solid start against their table-topping visitors to stand a chance.
However, within six minutes Ashford had taken the lead in what would prove to be a frustrating afternoon for the home side.
Even from that early moment it was difficult to see how an unsettled Tunbridge Wells team would pull themselves back into the fixture – and not simply because of the playing conditions.
Young Wells goalkeeper Steve Lawrence tried to keep the score down but by half-time it was already a much-deserved 3-0 scoreline in favour of Ashford.
In the second half, Tunbridge Wells supporters continued to sing despite the one-way traffic and their Ashford counterparts were also impressively vocal, contributing to a healthy 357 attendance.
Tunbridge Wells rarely threatened throughout while Ashford went on to add another two goals.
The thumping 5-0 win allowed the visitors to maintain their position at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League.
But it left the home side languishing in the bottom third of the table with quite a task to pull free of the relegation zone.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Wells with a trip to the league’s form team, Crowborough, in their next fixture before hosting Sevenoaks Town on January 2 in an A21 derby.
Wells boss Jason Bourne said: “There was a great atmosphere around the ground, and the players from both sides looked to flourish from that.
“Ashford started very strongly and the difference between the teams in the league table told its own story.
“It was one-way traffic for the first hour, with our keeper Steve Lawrence pulling off numerous saves to keep the score down.
“The second half was much more even, with Jon Pilbeam hitting the post, and several chances wasted.
“Despite being much more of a contest in the second half, Ashford still always threatened, and more goals came their way. They were good value for their win.”
The manager added that his team face some tough fixtures over the next few weeks but he was optimistic about the squad’s prospects for 2017.
While Bourne felt his side are a match for most teams in the division, greater consistency is needed in order to boost their standing in what is a fiercely competitive league.