Tommy Wright conceded Corby Town’s inability to find a goal while they were on top was their undoing as their fine run in the FA Cup came to an end.
Over 1,300 fans were on hand to watch the Steelmen do battle with Skrill South side Dover Athletic at Steel Park in the first round proper.
Corby were the better side in the opening half but were denied by some fine defending from the visitors, whose improved display after the break saw them grab two goals in the space of 10 minutes to kill off the contest.
The Steelmen did pull a goal back through Chris Carruthers in stoppage-time and Tom Berwick also missed an even later chance to earn his side a replay.
The game only went ahead after a big effort from a band of volunteers to help get the pitch ready following drainage problems at Corby’s home ground.
And joint-manager Wright, who played the full 90 minutes, was left devastated as his side slipped to a 2-1 defeat.
“We played some really good stuff in the first half, which I am sure the supporters who turned up would have been pleased with,” Wright said.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to get the goal we wanted and needed and I think you saw a better Dover team in the second half and you probably saw the worst of us.
“They may have had a bit of a rollicking at half-time and maybe they thought they would turn up and it would be a walkover for them.
“But we showed a lot of class in the first half but we couldn’t get that goal and if we had done then I am sure it would have been a different game.
“In terms of spirit, I would like to think our fans would feel we gave them everything. We played some decent stuff against a team from a higher division.
“We believed we could win the game but it didn’t work out for us. The atmosphere was brilliant and the work the volunteers did to get the game on was fantastic and is a credit to the town.”
The Steelmen can now put their full focus on the Calor League Premier Division campaign with their next assignment being a home clash with Weymouth next weekend, although they face Sileby Rangers in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup on Wednesday night.
And Wright is hoping his team can still make a push for the play-offs.
“As Stan (fellow joint-manager Andrew Wilson) and I have been saying all along, the league is our priority and we want to get out of it if we can,” Wright added.
“We need to go on a bit of a run now. We have had a great run in the FA Cup and everyone loves the competition. We have had a good run and we are gutted to have gone out the way we did.
“But we now need to concentrate on the next league game and go from there.”