Concord Rangers (home), Vanarama Conference South
Saturday 6th September, KO 3.00

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Previous columns can be found under the match report of the game to which they refer, while video interviews can be found here.

Losing the play-off against Dover was a bitter pill to swallow. It was our worst performance of the season and hugely disappointing, and the players know they let themselves down, particularly in the second half meltdown, but a horrendous 45 minutes shouldn't be the definition of a season in which we lost fewer games than anyone else and had the best goal difference in the league, scoring more goals than everyone except Bromley and conceding fewer than anyone except Dover. At half time we felt we had some control, but we needed to get the ball wider. Often we had the chance and the tempo to get it wide but we kept coming inside, and we spoke to the players at half time about it but it was as if they didn't listen as they continued in the same vein in the second half, and looked nervous, and after a dreadful mistake had led to the first goal the last half hour was carnage as Dover grew in confidence. Tactically they got things spot on and kept their shape, and we weren't close in terms of tempo or energy to getting through their packed penalty area. 

I wonder if it just wasn't meant to be in the end, as to lose Charlie Clough, Louis John, Dale Binns, Will Spetch and Jamie Slabber in the last month of the season was a huge blow. Charlie turned up on Saturday still stiff after Wednesday's game, and we had no control over the fact that Dale picked up a bad knock on his ankle in the first ten minutes on Wednesday which reduced his effectiveness then left him struggling to walk between then and Saturday, and that Will was hurt in what wasn't a great challenge after less than twenty minutes on Saturday. Damian Scannell has been struggling with a groin strain as well, and if it had been a normal league game I don't think Damian, Marvin or Charlie would have played. 

Football is about having big highs but also huge lows, and this is one of the latter, but we've got to come back next season and go again and try and take the play-offs out of the equation. Most of the players are with us for next season so the side's not going to change much, and in the past two seasons we've seen Welling and Eastleigh lose in the play-offs and then come back the following season and win the league. It won't be easy as there will be some good teams again, with Dartford coming down and Hemel Hempstead having had a great season to win promotion, but we've got to reflect on what we've done over 42 games and go and do it again next season, and I'm sure that in my tenure at the club we will play in the Conference. 

Thanks to all the supporters this season, particularly those who follow us away whose backing has been terrific, At the moment the way the season has ended is a bitter pill to take, and reminds me a bit of the Kingstonian game a few years ago, but most of the work for next season on the pitch has been done so I can take a rest from the footballing side for a few weeks and concentrate on being involved in the ground improvements, and I can't wait to have another go at winning the league next season, as everyone knows that I want to manage in the Conference.

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