Hadleigh United manager Stuart Crawford believes it will take ‘something special’ for his side to win the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title this season.
The below-par Brettsiders mustered a total of three shots as their record-breaking FA Vase run came to an end at the hands of Tunbridge Wells on Saturday.
Although they are 11 points behind Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division leaders Dereham Town, Hadleigh are still right in the hunt for the title and would move into the top four by winning their games in hand.
“There’s a hell of a long way to go in the league and we’re playing catch-up,” said the Brettsiders’ boss Crawford, whose side host Walsham-le-Willows on Saturday (3pm) and Kirkley and Pakefield on Tuesday (7.45pm). “The others are dropping points, but we’ve got to play a lot of games in a short space of time.
“It will take something special to go and win the league now, but we will give it a go.”
Reflecting on Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Kent Hurlimann League outfit Tunbridge Wells, Crawford added: “We battled through the last two rounds, but I told the lads they wouldn’t get away with it again.
“I’m disappointed because we did have a chance and too many key players just didn’t turn up.
“People you would normally expect to give you at least seven or eight out of 10 were nowhere near that level.
“I do feel the referee had a factor in the game because in the first 10 minutes we had two really good penalty shouts and if he had given them we could have been 2-0 up and it would have been a totally different outcome.
“He didn’t give them for whatever reason — perhaps because it was so early in the game — and I think because it was a big game he bottled it.
“However, too many of our key players were nowhere near their levels — put six or seven together like that and you are not going to be anywhere near winning the game.
“We didn’t have enough guile about us — as soon as we got in the last third, we struggled.
“I’m proud of the fact we’ve got this far because we are Hadleigh United, we’re not a massive club.
“We’ve gone further than we’ve ever gone before, but I’m disappointed because we could have gone further.”
Danny Bloomfield, who joined the club from Needham Market during the season, echoed his manager’s comments.
He said: “The Tunbridge defeat is going to live with us for a while, but football is a passionate game and a fast game, so we have to move on quickly.
“As disappointed as we are to go out of the FA Vase, it’s gone, we can’t change it, we have to try and affect what we can in the league.
“We’ve now only got one thing to go for, but if we keep playing like we did against Tunbridge we will soon blow our chances in that as well.”