Mark Starmer conceded he and the AFC Rushden & Diamonds players “let themselves down” as their FA Vase adventure was ended by St Andrews.
With a trip to Wembley just four rounds away, the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division high-fliers turned in a disappointing display in front of a club record home crowd of 948 at the Dog & Duck.
The East Midlands Counties League Premier Division side struck early in both halves to seal their 2-0 success, much to the delight of the vocal travelling support.
And Starmer was left to reflect on a day on which he admitted his team “never really got going”.
“It is desperately disappointing,” the Diamonds boss said.
“We never really got going and we conceded an awful goal early on. We created chances, which I knew we would, but we haven’t been clinical again.
“St Andrews fought for their lives and they deserved it. Fair play to them and sometimes, if you aren’t good enough, you have to give the opposition credit.
“We have let ourselves down on the day, we weren’t good enough.
“They had a great start but we have had plenty of chances and we had two or three in the second half.
“They wanted it more, they were first to everything and we haven’t performed.
“Quite simply, the players have let themselves down, I have let myself down and we are all very disappointed.”
Starmer insisted his team were not overawed by the occasion and he is now hoping they can bounce back when they take on runaway UCL leaders Spalding United at home next weekend.
“I don’t think we were overawed but you would certainly question one or two of the players,” he added.
“They didn’t produce what they are capable of. They haven’t performed as well as they can and we will leave it at that.
“I am not going to criticise them too much because they have done well to get this far and have shown amazing character at times in the run. On this occasion, it wasn’t meant to be.
“St Andrews deserved to go through and we have to pick ourselves up as we try to finish in the top two of the UCL.”