Lowestoft defender Adam Smith admits third play-off final defeat is the toughest

Lowestoft Town join boss Micky Chapman consoles midfielder Erkan Okay at the final whistle on Monday

Lowestoft Town join boss Micky Chapman consoles midfielder Erkan Okay at the final whistle on Monday. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Adam Smith's third consecutive Conference near miss proved the deepest cut of all.

The former Norwich, King's Lynn and Peterborough defender is one of the Blues' survivors from Ryman League, Premier Division play-off final defeats to Tonbridge, Hornchurch and now Concord.

'It is probably the worst of the three with being at home in front of our crowd,' he said. 'There have been tears in the changing room and it is just horrible. I'm struggling to find the words to say at the minute to sum it up. You can hear them celebrating in the changing room and we wanted that. It didn't happen for us when I fancied us. For the last two years we have been away in the final and we honestly thought this was going to be our year.

'You feel for the management because they put probably even more into this than the players. When we are away from here we have jobs and work, but they are constantly thinking and planning and they deserve it.

'We as players and management just need to dust ourselves down and have a think over the summer. If we can recruit one or two more players who can make us strong then that might be the difference.'

Smith insisted Lowestoft's squad must find the strength to respond.

'It is hard to pick yourself up again,' he said. 'I am not going to lie, but it is one of those things. Do you admit defeat or do you dust yourself down, pick yourself up and go again. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

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'This is one of the worst feelings I have had in football – up there with getting released from a club. It is probably even worse than that because you are so close to the lads and the management here.'