Manager Lee Clark spoke of his utmost disappointment after Blyth Spartans exited the FA Cup to Hednesford Town on Saturday afternoon.
The 46-year-old was brutally honest after his side’s 4-2 defeat at Keys Park, conceding that the hosts were fully deserving of their progression into the Fourth Round Qualifying.
Clark alluded to Blyth’s struggles in the set-piece department after three of The Pitmen’s four goals followed from corner and free-kick deliveries.
And the former Birmingham City manager also recognised Spartans’ rich history in the FA Cup, admitting his sadness at not being able to take the club into the proper rounds.
“I just feel a big deal of disappointment,” Clark told blythspartans.com
“It was a great opportunity that we have missed and the result was a fair reflection of the game. We didn’t play anywhere near where we have in the last few weeks.
“We didn’t do the basics right. We spoke about Hednesford all week about where their threats were, which was being a bigger team than us.
“We didn’t want to concede any cheap set plays but when we did, we had to be vigilant and defend it – we didn’t do that. Three of the goals have come from set plays.
“You never want to concede from any kind of set play – even if you concede just one.
“You’re always frustrated as a manager but when we have conceded three of the four goals from that, and the fourth goal being an error from ourselves, it makes it even worse.
“It’s becoming too difficult. In the two away cup ties, we have had to score four goals in both games just to get replays. It shouldn’t happen like that.
“When you go away from home and get two goals, there should be a chance of you winning the football match.”
Callum Roberts was on the scoresheet again with his brace clawing Spartans back to 1-1 and 2-2, however Clark believes his side threw the game away.
All in all, it was a poor display which surprised Clark, particularly after coming into the game after back-to-back victories against Curzon Ashton and AFC Telford United.
Nevertheless, while still hurting from the FA Cup exit, he reiterated that there is plenty left to play for this season in what will be a “massive fight”.
Clark said: “We’re extremely disappointed because I have said from the start, the history of the football club in the FA Cup – I would have loved to have been involved in the proper rounds.
“But ultimately, we didn’t deserve to be in the hat and that is the bee all and end all really.
“The performance took me by surprise – certainly the way we started. The only changes I have made in the previous four games has been through injuries.
“I kept the belief in the players who were getting results but for one reason or another, we delivered a below-par performance.
“In cup ties, and especially when you’re playing a team from a league below, it is going to be a battle, they’re going to fight for everything and try and unsettle you.
“We didn’t stand up to the challenge. The performance level was a real disappointment for me because if you get that right, you can get a result.
“We got two lifelines to get back into the game and then we just threw the game away.
“We still have two cup competitions and we still have a massive fight on our hands in the league. We need the players to get back to the level they were at in the previous three games and take it from there.”