Alex Pike is determined for Gosport Borough not to become ‘the nearly men’ after they lost to Eastbourne Borough on Saturday.
The Privett Park outfit went down by a solitary goal in their Vanarama Conference South encounter but remained in fifth place and firmly in the play-off hunt.
Pike knows the stakes are high at the business end of the season but insists he will do all he can to get Borough in the top six.
‘There will be lots of twists and turns up until the end of the season,’ said the boss.
‘I am determined this group of lads will not become the nearly men.
‘It’s up to me now to make sure there’s leadership off the park and on it.
‘At this stage of the season, I’m disappointed to lose any game.
‘We were chasing the game at the end and we know every match is a cup final.
‘We tried to get the goal back and had some glorious chances to get the equaliser. Better finishing and it could have been a very different result.’
In a first half that saw The Sports dominating and Gosport’s front two starved of service, it took 15 minutes for the first chance of note.
A superb double save from Nathan Ashmore fell to Simon Johnson a few metres from goal.
But despite bundling the ball across the line, the striker was judged offside.
The pivotal moment of the match arrived just before half-time when Rory Williams brought down Johnson with a high foot.
Ryan Worrall made no mistake from the spot, dispatching the ball confidently into the corner of the net to put the hosts into the lead.
‘It was a defender error that gave them their penalty and, ultimately, the three points,’ said Pike.
Gosport came out with more urgency after the interval but still couldn’t create any clear-cut chances until Justin Bennett appeared to be brought down by an Eastbourne defender on 55 minutes.
Borough also had another penalty appeal turned down late on, when an Eastbourne defender was thought to have handled Dan Wooden’s shot.
With the game nearing its end, Sam Pearce, Lee Wort and Andy Robinson all had great chances to grab a point for the visitors but all three missed their oportunities.
Pike said: ‘I think it’s disappointing that Justin Bennett has been pulled down in the box and there was no penalty.
‘If we’d had the referee from Farnborough last Tuesday, then we would have had another penalty for deliberate handball.’
However, the Gosport manager is keen to move on and learn from his side’s mistakes.
Chelmsford are the next visitors to Privett Park this Saturday.
‘This game is over now and we have a week to prepare for the next cup final,’ said Pike.
‘We have to learn lessons from this game and make sure we come back stronger.
‘I won’t give anything away tactically but we’ll have a look at the way Eastbourne set up against us.
‘We’ll have to learn from this and hopefully, it’s a kick up the backside.’