Carshalton Athletic skipper Paris Hamilton-Downes admitted the Robins’ play-off agony was a bitter pill to swallow on Thursday night.
The Robins lost 2-1 at home to Merstham after a Kershaney Samuels strike on 78 minutes booked the Moatsiders’ place in yesterday’s Bostik Premier play-off final, which they lost 2-0 to Tonbridge Angels.
“It’s a tough one to take,” said Hamilton-Downes, who had seen his side equalise through player-manager Peter Adeniyi after Walter Figueiro’s early opener.
“It’s a huge disappointment to get to the play-offs and lose so it will be a really bitter one to swallow.
“We didn’t turn up as we have been all season – we know we can play so much better than that.
“We had more to give but we just couldn’t get our combination play going like we usually do at home, so it really wasn’t good enough.”
Despite missing out on the opportunity for back-to-back promotions, Hamilton-Downes insisted the pain of coming so close this year would only fan the flames for next campaign.
“Obviously we’ll be very annoyed about this result for a while but we know we’ve got to put it right,” he said.
“We’ll use the disappointment as firepower for next season.
“All the boys will be back ready for pre-season, raring to go and chomping at the bit.”
The captain looked forward to seeing fresh faces over the summer, pointing to the strength of spirit among the squad.
“It’s a special group of players we have here,” added Hamilton-Downes.
“The manager always makes sure the players he brings in are right for the team, not just for their footballing ability but also making sure they gel with the squad.
“All the boys who come in are like a big family – there’s no bad apples.
“It’s one big brotherhood really.”
Bobby Price, creator of the Robins’ goal, added there can only be one aim for next season – promotion.
“We know we can win this league,” he said.
“If you look at where we were four or five years ago, we were changing managers a number of times.
“Then since Peter came in we just missed out on the play-offs in his first season, in the second year we won the league and in the third we’ve come second in the Bostik Premier.
“So next season our aim is to win it.”