Pertemps Bees director of rugby, Phil Maynard, must wonder what he has done to anger rugby's gods as his team oscillates from one problem to the next.

Having chastened his players for lacking commitment earlier this season, Maynard yesterday bemoaned the fact that they are now trying too hard after watching his side slip to their ninth consecutive defeat.

"I have never seen a team work so hard for so little," he said. "We kept the ball for 12 minutes at the start of Saturday's game and then the first time they touch it they score. We are just trying too hard.

"We are making too many mistakes with the ball in hand or missing crucial tackles which are costing us dear," he said.

Maynard must repair Bees' morale before Bedford visit Sharmans Cross Road on Saturday but he might have to cope without prop Matt Long who faces a fitness test before the game.

Long was brought into the starting line-up for last Saturday's match at Ireland Avenue but he was taken off midway through the first-half after he was elbowed in the face. Andrew Le Chevalier, who replaced Long at Nottingham, is likely to remain in the side for Bedford if Long fails his fitness test.

Flankers Stean Williams and Nathan Carter are also likely to come back into consideration but they may have difficulty in finding a place in the squad for New Zealander Mike Panoho.

Panoho, a recent recruit from Weston-super-Mare, was originally named as a replacement for the Nottingham game but he had to be withdrawn from the squad because of the regulation which restricts sides to two non-EU-qualified players.

Australian Tim Walsh and New Zealander Aaron Takarangi were the two permitted overseas players at Nottingham.

Meanwhile, former Bees fly-half Mark Woodrow will be released by Bristol Shoguns at the end of the season.

Woodrow, whose performance in the Powergen Cup victory over London Wasps was the highlight of his 18-month stay at Sharmans Cross Road, is one of three players who the club have confirmed will not be given new contracts in the summer.

He was signed from Bees on a short term deal until the end of the season and, with Jason Strange and Danny Gray both under contract for 2005-6, director of rugby Richard Hill will release him next month along with Adam Billig and Owen Evans.

"If we get promoted, I will be looking to increase the size of the squad and I didn't want to keep lads at the club when they haven't much chance of getting a game."

Hill also played down rumours regarding his apparent interest in Coventry scrum-half Shaun Perry.