Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith was left reeling after his sides devastating 5-0 defeat at the hands of Bradford Park Avenue in the Evo Stik Northern Premier Division semi final on Saturday and the manager admitted his team let their big day slip by.
The Pitmen started the game well and matched their hosts on a sodden pitch in stormy conditions but, after a debatable penalty was awarded to Bradford, lax marking and the usually dependable Chris Clements’ penalty miss cost Hednesford dear and they never recovered in the second half.
‘I always try to impress on my players not to let big occasions pass them by and to have no regrets, but the opposite happened on Saturday. I cannot describe how I feel, the dressing room was very sombre after the game.
The Bradford penalty was a big decision that went against us. The linesman said it was too close to call yet the referee, with an impossible angle, decided there was no doubt. At that time we were well in the game but after that everything that could go wrong did. The penalty miss, Jay Denny’s sending off and the capitulation in the second half.’
There will no doubt be speculation surrounding the future of the management team following the second play off dissappointment of their very successful tenure and, worryingly, Smith talked of big changes afoot.
‘If I stay, this team will need wholesale changes. We have been very very poor since Christmas and big changes would be required to compete in this league again next season.’
The first team squad and loyal supporters will be left to reflect on a season which has ended with the most successful management team for many years at Keys Park expressing their disillusionment at the abuse from a tiny section of fans in the final minutes despite the huge majority of the travelling contingent showing their appreciation at the final whistle.
‘There is a lot of thinking and decision making to be done in the close season. The biggest disappointment for the players and myself is some of the nasty and ignorant comments we had to endure from some of our so called fans.
It does make you wonder whether it is time to step aside.’