Alex Pike has admitted he would readily give up his club’s day out at Wembley if it meant he could be guaranteed Gosport Borough would survive in Skrill South this season.
After going down to a limp 3-0 loss at Dover Athletic, Borough are six points adrift at the bottom of the table.
They seem to be clinging on to the fact they have as many as five games in hand on some of their rivals for the drop.
Perhaps a few minds are elsewhere or maybe the Trophy achievement has taken it out of them.
It’s also possible some Borough players think they can’t avoid relegation and have accepted the bonus trade-off of a day out at Wembley.
But those days out aren’t quite as enjoyable when you are on the end of a hammering – no matter how grand the venue is or how many extra fans are there to see it.
The contrast with the previous weekend could not have been more stark than at the full-time whistle on Saturday. Seven days earlier, the Privett Park outfit celebrated in style after clinching their place in the FA Trophy final.
This week, it was heads bowed as the players trudged off.
Against a good Dover side, Pike’s men were simply never at the races.
Tom Murphy headed home the first-half opener before a disputed Barry Cogan penalty and Liam Bellamy’s late third sealed an easy win for the Kent side.
And Pike made it clear relegation would make the historic Wembley appearance almost irrelevant.
He said: ‘If you spoke to some people at the club and said “you are going to Wembley but you are getting relegated,” some would accept that.
‘Personally, I would give up Wembley to stay in this league.
‘Relegation would cloud everything for me.
‘It would be awful and it would be embarrassing.
‘At this rate, we will go to Wembley and probably lose 10-0 and come away with worst result in the history of the FA Trophy final.
‘You don’t want a day out like that and Cambridge are 10 times better than Dover.
‘I hate looking at that league table every Sunday morning and seeing us bottom. It’s dreadful.
‘The players have got this mindset that there is a safety net because we have games in hand.
‘They think they are going to win those games in hand and get out of trouble. It’s not always the case.’
Pike made a double substitution at half-time but Borough’s faint hopes of a comeback were killed off by the penalty decision.
While Sam Pearce made the challenge on the dangerous Nathan Elder, opinions were divided on whether it was ball first or man first as the striker tumbled in the box.
And Pike said the referee had later apologised for the decision.
He said: ‘I spoke to the referee afterwards and he put his hands up and said “I got it wrong”.
‘I admire him for apologising but he could have rectified that decision there and then and at 1-0, you’ve always got a chance.
‘To be fair, I don’t think it affected the result. They beat us in all departments. They were better and stronger than us.’
GOSPORT: Ashmore, Woodward (Williams, 45mins), Richardson, Pearce, Poate, Carmichael, Scott, Smith (Ramsey, 82mins), Wilde (Wooden, 45mins), Gosney, Brown. Unused subs: Barfoot, Dunford