A bitterly disappointed Steve Bateman feels his side have missed a “massive opportunity” after the Moles were beaten 2-1 by Bedworth United in Tuesday’s play-off semi-final.
Having finished third in Division One Central, Aylesbury were unable to make home advantage count as goals from Alex Naughton and Danny Creaney saw Bedworth book their place in next Monday’s promotion play-off final, where they will face Barton Rovers.
The defeat came as a huge frustration for Bateman, especially after his side had spent large periods of the season in the top two.
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” he said afterwards. “More so because we allowed them to do a job on us. They were very much up for it and I can’t understand why, seemingly, one or two of ours weren’t.
“We put so much into securing that top three spot but as I said, what goes on in the regulation season counts for nothing at this stage – it’s a one-off game and we’ve allowed them to come to us and pick our pockets without asking enough questions of them, which is the most disappointing thing for me.
“These opportunities don’t come along often and while I’m proud of my record of getting sides up to the top end of divisions and into play-offs, I’m becoming bored and disappointed that we can’t get over that line.
“There was a massive opportunity for the club having got to this point and to have just two games to get such a prize that takes a whole season of work.”
Bateman also suggested he may shake up his squad over the summer following Tuesday’s disappointing performance, adding: “I’ve now got to look at what I do about it because I’ve learnt more about my group in the last month than maybe in the previous period of time when things were going swimmingly, and I will be looking to change things in the summer.
“You tend to learn more when it becomes tougher and so it proved. It’s quite ironic that second and third go out to fourth and fifth but at least Royston had a go at Barton.
“I’m just disappointed and I made that clear to the players afterwards and they knew who they are. I’m not going to name names but they’ve not turned up for what might be the biggest game they’re involved in.
“I’ve now got to look at what I do about it because I’ve learnt more about my group in the last month than maybe in the previous period of time when things were going swimmingly, and I will be looking to change things in the summer.”Steve Bateman
“We set ourselves up like we have done all season but unfortunately the players didn’t go out there and do what we talked about.
“The players are disappointed too because they know themselves that they’ve not reached the level they’re capable of and I wish Bedworth good luck in the next round - they’ve earned the right by beating us fair and square.
“It’s frustrating that we didn’t give a proper account of ourselves. The goals we conceded were needless. I have no idea what Ben Stevens was doing for their penalty - he’s blocked their player who wasn’t even going to get anywhere near the ball and it’ll be another two or three months before he can look to atone that.
“That put us on the backfoot and then we conceded almost immediately again, but we got ourselves back into the game and I really thought we’d go on and win it, but we didn’t maintain that response that we showed. We didn’t create enough opportunities on the night.
“If I’m summarising the season, I’m proud of our effort because I said we were targeting play-offs and we reached that target with a week to spare.
“But personally, I’m disappointed we didn’t push Kettering closer and harder having got ourselves into a position of contention, but we’ve operated within our means and I’m proud of the achievement.”