Gutted Spalding United boss Pat Rayment reckons his side may have passed up the best chance the club will ever have of reaching Wembley.
The Tulips crashed out of the FA Vase in the fifth round after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Guernsey at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field on Saturday.
Gary King had put Spalding ahead with a scorching half-volley, but a 17-minute Ross Allen treble sent the Channel Islanders through to a quarter-final at either Runcorn Town or Hanworth Villa.
Although still in the running for a United Counties League double, Rayment struggled to hide his disappointment at the setback – which comes hot on the heels of last Tuesday’s Lincs FA Senior Trophy semi final loss to rivals Holbeach United.
“It’s hard not to be annoyed,” said Rayment. “Only about half a dozen of the lads turned up, which isn’t enough.
“They were very beatable – and if I’m honest their manager told me that they expected to lose to us.
“We conceded three very poor goals and it’s ridiculous to say, but Lee Drury didn’t have to make a save. It didn’t help that we had Lee Canoville and Mile Chamberlain go off ill at half time, though.
“Of course I’m proud of the run we had and the progress we’ve made as a club, but this is a major opportunity missed.
“I didn’t fear anyone left in the Vase and we could have gone all the way to Wembley.”
Meanwhile, the Vase tie looks set to be TJ Nightingale’s final game in a Spalding shirt.
Grantham Town have made a seven-day approach for the 13-goal striker (pictured above) – and Rayment told the Lincolnshire Free Press that he expects him to join the Evo-Stik League Premier Division outfit.
With or without Nightingale, Spalding are now fully focused on securing promotion from the UCL Premier Division.
That’s the message from boss Rayment ahead of tonight’s tough trip to Shepshed Dynamo (7.45pm). The Tulips are 20 points behind leaders Holbeach United, but have five games in hand.
Rayment added: “Promotion has always been our number one goal. We’re playing catch-up, but it’s still very much possible.”
Keeper Michael Duggan will make his debut, but Lee Canoville, Miles Chamberlain and Danny Steadman are all rated doubtful for the trip to Leicestershire.