Matt Finlay admitted the AFC Rushden & Diamonds players were “gutted” after their season came to an end on Tuesday night.
Having earned their play-off place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South thanks to a 5-1 victory over Carlton Town last weekend, Diamonds made the trip to take on runners-up Witton Albion in a bid to keep the promotion dream alive.
However, Rob Hopley’s second-half goal gave the hosts a 1-0 success while Dan Quigley was sent-off to compound Diamonds’ misery.
Finlay produced two stunning saves late in the first half to keep it at 0-0 but there was little he could do as Hopley lifted the ball over him for the winner on 54 minutes.
The Diamonds goalkeeper said: “All the boys were gutted. We went there hoping and backing ourselves to get a result.
“We weathered a storm in the last 10 minutes of the first half but I didn’t think they did a great deal in the second half. But they are a good side and fair play to them.
“I was pleased with my own performance but that’s what goalkeepers are there for – to make saves. You get hammered if you let a bad one in but you get high praise if you make saves.
“It’s a hard league and the top teams are very good. It’s an achievement to get to the play-offs but once we got there we wanted promotion.
“I didn’t think we played badly but they were clinical with their big chance.”
Finlay, meanwhile, is hoping to stay on at Diamonds for another season.
The goalkeeper has become something of a mainstay at the club and he doesn’t want that to change anytime soon.
“I will have a chat with Peaksy (manager Andy Peaks) and Lamby (assistant-manager Paul Lamb) and the guys and hopefully I will be back,” he added.
“I want to stay here for as long as possible, it’s a good club to be at.
“The fans were brilliant on Tuesday night and you can’t beat coming to play in front of 500 or 600 supporters at every home game.
“If the club still want me here, I will be here without a doubt.”