Lifting players will be my most difficult challenge yet, admits King’s Lynn Town boss Setchell
Gary Setchell admits picking up his deflated players will be the biggest challenge of his managerial career after King's Lynn Town lost their title showdown with Long Buckby on Saturday.
The Linnets still remain neck and neck with their Northamptonshire rivals in the United Counties Premier Division title race but blew the opportunity to all but seal promotion by beating them at Station Road.
Setchell's table-topping outfit took the lead through Jason Turner but 'schoolboy errors' from right-back Ashley Deeney and goalkeeper Alex Street saw the Linnets lose 2-1 to hand Glen Cotterill's village side a title lifeline.
While Buckby players celebrated like they had won the UCL, Lynn players slumped to the ground across the pitch at the final whistle knowing that if both sides win their remaining games the destination of the league trophy will come down to goal difference.
The Lynn boss said: 'Of course the result hurts. There were almost tears in the dressing room. The lads are gutted. You can play as well as you like first half to get yourselves in front but you can't gift goals like we did.
'They scored directly from a corner, that wouldn't happen at schoolboy level, and we've headed one straight into the path of one of the league's top scorers who is six yards from goal. You can do all the work you like but if you're going to gift teams like Long Buckby goals like that you're going to make it very difficult for yourself.
'To score directly from a corner beggars belief and the goals we conceded weren't even schoolboy - they were ridiculous. Two young lads have made two errors today but they've been terrific for us all season and there's no point slaughtering them.
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'It's going to be the hardest thing I've done since I've been a manager here - or even at Wisbech - to pick the lads up as the result will hurt our players. We're not throwing the towel in though and we've got to pick ourselves up.'
The nature of the defeat made it even more galling for Lynn's tremendous travelling support - which made up at least 95pc of the 748 crowd - after Buckby were reduced to 10 men with just under 30 minutes left.
Centre-back Mark Hewitt was sent off for appearing to throw a punch during a melee but the incident seemed to reinvigorate Cotterill's charges who grew in stature in the closing stages, much to the annoyance of Setchell.
The Linnets boss said: 'We didn't show any composure at all in the last 20 minutes - we panicked.
'I felt in the last 20 minutes I needed to see my characters then. It's no good kicking doors in the dressing room afterwards, I needed to see it then. You find out about your players and I needed them to stand up and be counted. That was so comfortable for Buckby at the end it was really disappointing.'
Buckby remain six points, and three goals behind Lynn, but have two games in hand. They play their first of those on Wednesday night at Blackstones.