Bishop's Stortford manager Steve Smith 'gutted, devastated and hurting' after Isthmian Premier play-off defeat to Cheshunt
Steve Smith says the pain of Bishop's Stortford's play-off semi-final defeat to Cheshunt will take him weeks to recover from.
The manager saw his side concede in the 90th minute as they lost the Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division knockout contest 3-2 at the R&D Advisors UK Stadium last night (Wednesday April 27).
The Blues led twice thanks to goals from Darren Foxley and Billy Cracknell, but let in quick equalisers on both occasions.
And Taylor McKenzie headed in the Ambers' winner at the death as they triumphed in front of a crowd of 1,504.
Smith admitted he was confident his side, who finished second in the league, would triumph, but it was the fifth-placed visitors who can still dream of going up to National League South. They will visit Hornchurch, who staged a dramatic late comeback to win 3-2 at Enfield Town in the night's other semi-final, to contest the final on bank holiday Monday (May 2).
"This is going to hurt for a couple of weeks, it really is. I'm absolutely devastated, to be honest with you," Smith told the club's YouTube channel after the final whistle. "All the people at the football club and, most of all, the players have given me everything this year. It's gut-wrenching.
"I'd like to thank everyone for their incredible support tonight, with 1,500 people here. We've given them a great season, but we didn't give them a great performance tonight.
"If it didn't hurt I wouldn't be doing it. It affects my life away from the football club, but we have to take it on the chin. There's no point dwelling on it and we have to go again next season.
"I'll go away, gather my thoughts and decide what players are going to stay and what we're going to do next season. But I'm absolutely gutted.
"It will be hard to improve what we've had because we've been brilliant all year. Hopefully most of the boys will stay, but now's not the time to discuss what we might do next year."
Smith was disappointed with his team's overall performance on the night as they suffered just their third home defeat of the campaign in all competitions.
But it was the third time they had been beaten by Cheshunt this term after succumbing to them away from home on penalties in the FA Trophy in December and in the league on Easter Monday.
"We didn't really play well, I didn't think. We didn't get the ball down. At times we did, in very short spells, and when we did that we looked decent," said Smith.
"But they drew us into playing the sort of football they play - direct, banging it in long, ugly football, second balls. We became involved in a fight rather than getting the ball down and doing what we're good at.
"I said to them before the game we needed eight out of 10s from everyone and the only one I really thought we got an eight out of was Darren Foxley. All the rest we had fives and sixes out of 10.
"There are tears everywhere in that dressing room, believe me. I honestly believed we'd beat them. We're a better footballing side than them, but it means nothing. They've come here and done a job on us.
"We've had a phenomenal season and sometimes these play-offs are a bit of a lottery. How many times have we seen teams come from 10th or 11th like they did when they got knocked out of the Trophy and sneak into the play-offs? They'll probably win the play-offs as well."