Centre-back Tom Gardner admits it was a blow to see defensive partner Paul Kendall leave Tiverton Town, but feels he and Adam Faux still make a solid combination.
Former Plymouth Argyle trainee Kendall swapped Ladysmead for Truro City's Treyew Road two weeks ago, after forming an imperious partnership with Gardner over the past two seasons.
Midfielder Kevin Hill has often filled in at the heart of the defence when needed, but a hamstring injury sustained in the 2-2 draw away to Shortwood United last week has ruled him out for the foreseeable future.
That means Gardner is now playing alongside former captain Faux – in and out of the side since sustaining a head injury in May 2011 – although he is unsure if he will be his next long-term defensive partner.
"I don't know what the plan is long-term – I haven't really spoken to the manager about it yet," said Gardner, who scooped the man-of-the-match award during Tivvy's 2-1 home defeat to Cirencester Town last Saturday. "I'm not sure if the manager [Mark Saunders] will play Hilly in the centre with me once he is fit or stick with Ads [Faux].
"Ads has said himself that he is not really a natural centre-back, but he's been good to play with so far. He has dropped back and allowed me to go in to win headers and he just clears up anything behind me and it has worked well."
Gardner's understanding with Kendall was central to Tivvy conceding a miserly 42 League goals last season – the fifth-best record in the division – as the Yellows secured a ninth-placed finish in Evo-Stik League Division One South and West.
A mixture of excellent aerial ability and full-blooded commitment again saw Gardner and Kendall combine well for the first half of the campaign, and Gardner concedes it is a shame that Kendall has chosen to leave. "I was disappointed to see him move on," Gardner said. "We were both happy to chuck ourselves in the way of things. We got used to playing with each other over time."
With their league form floundering and their play-offs hopes fading fast, the sooner Tivvy can find a winning combination the better. They have now gone 13 games in all competitions without a win.
Gardner admitted to being as confused as anyone as to the dip in form. "I can't put my finger on why," he said.
A last-gasp goal from Kevin Squire gave Bideford a 2-1 Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division home win over Cambridge City last night. Sean Downing's 18th-minute goal had given the Robins a lead which they held until 14 minutes from the end.