Ryan Woodford believes the Hawks will return stronger next season after their last-day misery.
The club skipper admitted it will take time to recover from the hammer blow of missing out on the Skrill South play-offs, after failing to win either of their final two fixtures that cost them their place on goal difference.
Following the shock 3-1 home loss to Maidenhead, a 0-0 draw at relegated Tonbridge was the final nail in the coffin for Lee Bradbury’s side at the weekend.
But Woodford believes the experience will stand the Hawks in good stead and make them even more determined to right that wrong next term.
Woodford said: ‘It will take a while to get over it – especially the way it happened on goal difference and with Dover scoring a last-minute goal.
‘Of course it was a massive disappointment.
‘But I think it will make us stronger for next season and we can kick on.
‘Whether you lose or win, it adds to your experience.
‘The amount of games we had in such a short space of time probably didn’t help us but there are no excuses. We gave it our best shot.
‘With the squad we’ve got, it was a great effort to get in and around the play-offs and we are more than capable of doing that again next season and going one step further.’
The Hawks certainly had their opportunities to cement their place – and none more so than Scott Donnelly, who saw his first-half penalty saved.
But Woodford insisted the midfielder was not to blame.
He said: ‘I thought Scott was different class and he has been brilliant since he arrived from Farnborough.
‘Nobody ever means to miss a penalty – it can happen to anyone.
‘But nobody blamed him.
‘I think we actually played quite well on the day.
‘We created enough chances to win a few games.
‘Even after we missed the penalty, we were so on top of the game that I thought it was only going to be a matter of time before we scored.
‘But games like that are always tense. We didn’t know if a draw was going to be enough because we didn’t know what was happening in the other game.
‘Their game kicked off later than ours and then we found out that Dover had scored a late goal when we were doing our warm down.
‘It was tough to take.’