ROB Small has criticised the Isthmian Premier League fixture schedule as the midweek defeat to Cray Wanderers resulted in Bowers & Pitsea being without two key players for the 1-1 FA Cup third qualifying round draw at Canvey Island.

Tom Stephen dropped to the bench after suffering a nasty head injury in the 3-1 loss, while Ben Sartain was not in the squad due to sustaining a shoulder problem.

And Small believes midweek fixtures should not have been scheduled just a matter of days before an FA Cup weekend.

The Bowers chief said: “I’m not sure why we were made to play in midweek.

“I don’t think we were helped by the League putting the fixtures in before the FA Cup game.

“We picked up two injuries to Tom Stephen and Ben Sartain, so we had to reshuffle and put some square pegs in round holes.

“Ben hurt his shoulder in a collision at Cray.

“We don’t think it’s serious but, where it’s bruised, this game came too early for him.

“Whether or not he will be available for the replay, I genuinely don’t know.

“But I hope it’s not a serious one.”

Bowers struck the woodwork three times before Brad Warner gave Bowers a 68th minute lead at Park Lane.

However, Canvey equalised immediately as James White found a way past goalkeeper Callum Chafer.

And, after seeing Bowers miss a host of chances and being frustrated by the goal-frame, Small conceded his side is not enjoying any luck at the moment.

Small added: “Is it bad luck or poor finishing? Is it bad luck or poor defending?

“I would rather control the controllable things.

“Luck is not something you can control and I believe you make your own luck.

“However, I have a lot of belief in this group of players and I know what they are capable of.

“Eventually the tide will turn and the chances will start to go in.

“That will do wonders for our confidence and season.”

And, having ensured a replay will take place at the Len Salmon Stadium on Tuesday, Small was pleased to see Bowers’ record-breaking FA Cup run continue.

“The show goes on until at least Tuesday, which is great,” admitted Small.

“We’re enjoying it and we’ve never come this far in the competition.

“If we were to go one step further, it would be unbelievable.

“Both teams will give it everything to get into the next round.”