Marcus Law immediately set his sights on keeping “the core” of his Kettering Town squad together for another shot at promotion after they suffered play-off heartbreak last night (Wednesday).
The Poppies were beaten 3-1 by Slough Town in the Evo-Stik South League Premier play-off semi-final at Arbour Park with Aaron O’Connor scoring his 40th goal of the season in all competitions to cancel out Perry Coles’ opener for the hosts in the first half.
But two second-half penalties from James Dobson sent the Rebels through to the final at King’s Lynn Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
With a restructuring of the non-League system in the offing this summer, Kettering now look set to be part of the new ‘Central League’ for the start of next season.
And Law said: “We will soon find out what league we will be going in but I will do as much as I can to keep the core of this squad together, if not everyone.
“We have proven over a 46-game period that we are more than capable of competing.
“I look at the small margins and we need to nullify that.
“If we were looking to go into the level of playing against teams like Stockport, York and Chester you are going to be in pressurised games and you have to be composed and not make the errors.
“From last night, you wonder whether it might have been too early but we have to act on that.
“We have kept 21 clean sheets so I have to look at why we have conceded as many goals as we have in 25 other games. That’s something we will look at over the summer and get right.
“I asked for a stronger underbelly and a more hard-working side from the season before, the players have given us that and I don’t think any fan can grumble at the commitment the players have given us this year.
“We have fallen short in a very strange league in that five teams have run away from everyone else. We set out to be in the play-offs and we have come up short and it is desperately disappointing.”
As far as last night was concerned, Law admitted “unforced errors” proved costly for his team.
Orrin Pendley’s poor header back towards goal allowed Coles to nip in for the opener while a mistake from goalkeeper Paul White led to him bringing down Chris Flood for the second penalty.
But Law was also fuming about the decision to award Slough their first penalty as Michael Richens clearly won the ball when challenging Dobson in the area.
“The difference between the two teams on the night was that they didn’t make as many unforced errors as us throughout the side,” the Poppies boss added.
“I just wish I was standing here talking about three great goals scored by the opposition.
“I actually don’t think there was much between the two teams and it comes down to key moments.
“They have scored from a slow back header and their lad has gambled on it but we got ourselves back in it and Aaron took his chance.
“The first one isn’t a penalty, it’s nowhere near a penalty. I know he has gone to ground but he’s taken the ball and goals change games.
“We were chasing the game after that and then another unforced error from Paul has cost us the third goal.
“I just said to the players afterwards that the higher you go, the smaller the margins become.
“We have made errors in this game and been punished.
“It’s very disappointing because you want all your lads to perform and have good games and unfortunately we are talking errors and they were the difference.
“We are looking at two defensive errors and a refereeing error and then we ended up running out of ideas.”
The Poppies’ season isn’t over just yet, however, as they still have to play the final of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup against Brackley Town at Wellingborough Town’s Dog & Duck ground a week today (May 10).