Harry Redknapp was on the touchline watching Herne Bay last weekend – but joint-boss John Embery felt it was an unhelpful distraction.
Former Spurs boss Redknapp and Sky Sports presenter Hayley McQueen were special guests at Bay’s Bostik South East game at East Grinstead on Saturday.
The 72-year-old presented Embery and Jermaine Darlington with their performance-of-the-month award before kick-off.
But Embery said: “It became almost not a football game, more like a parade, and that had an effect.
“Maybe some of the players got caught up in it, I don’t know, but it wasn’t a perfect scenario for football.
“It was more about Harry Redknapp being there and the football became secondary. It was a total distraction.
“Harry presented our award before the game but we needed to prepare so we only had a quick chat.
“The important thing for us was the game but everything was a distraction.
“The boys came out for the second half and were waiting for the game to kick-off but they started doing a raffle.
“It became like a circus, not a football match, and I’m stood there thinking ‘what’s going on?’.
“But it still doesn’t take away from the fact we didn’t work hard enough in the game.”
Bay played against 10 men for more than 70 minutes after Wasps keeper Brannon Daly was sent off for a bad challenge on striker Ronald Sobowale.
Sobowale needed six stitches in his mouth and the game finished 1-1 with both goals in the first half.
Embery said: “The sending-off worked against us because we lost Ronald, who was having a really good game.
“Our attitude was ‘we’re going to win this now’ and we slacked off. They worked super hard.
“I don’t think we put in as good a shift as we should have done. It was a mindset thing because we were playing against 10 men and it hurt us.”
Bay are now unbeaten in four matches, though, and six points clear of bottom side Greenwich with eight games remaining.
Embery said: “I think three more wins pretty much guarantees you to stay up. If you get 39 points, you stay up.
“Their games are whittling down, they’ve got seven left
so they’ve got to win half of those.”
Bay hope to have Sobowale available for the visit of Guernsey on Saturday (1pm) although Alex Mulrooney-Skinner is an injury doubt.