Disappointment turned into determination as Spalding United boss Chris Rawlinson reflected on Saturday’s play-off final defeat.
As the promotion party began for Witton Albion, the Tulips were left to look back on what might have been at the end of the season.
The club’s highest-ever league finish guaranteed home advantage in the semi-final.
Having beaten Stocksbridge Park Steels in extra-time, they couldn’t get past Witton.
Rawlinson said: “They are a good side and I thought we were just a tiny bit short of our best.
“We did well in patches – but last Tuesday night probably took a little bit more out of us than we had thought.
“They scored a great goal then Leon Mettam stepped up with probably our goal of the season by some distance.
“He has got that in his locker and that’s why he has scored a lot of goals during a good career in non-League football.
“I thought ‘great, we’re back on level terms so let’s carry on’.
“Unfortunately, they broke on us from a long throw which was our Achilles heel earlier in the season. We cleared it up, then it happened again.
We did well in patches – but last Tuesday night probably took a little bit more out of us than we had thought.Chris Rawlinson
“It was a difficult day with Michael Duggan not able to kick the ball which severely limited how we could get out at times.
“Duggan made a good save but we have to make sure we follow it in. It was frustrating to concede like that.
“I thought we could go on and get another goal to make it 2-2 and, on another day, that chance goes in at the end of the game.
“Fair play to Witton – they were a little bit better than us on the day.
“We were not quite at our best and we looked a little bit tired.
“We’re proud of what we have done this season. But we are still in the same division as when we started last August.
“If the players are given an opportunity to go to a higher level then fair play to them – we won’t stop them. We can pat them on the back and wish them all the best.
“It would be frustrating to see anyone move to a club at the same level.
“As a club, we’ve got to show ambition. I’d like the squad to stay together and it would be brilliant to do that with the support of the club.”