Warrington Town manager Mark Beesley says his players must take the positives from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Northern Premier League champions South Shields.
The Yellows lost influential defender Tom Hannigan in the warm-up and found themselves 2-0 down inside 10 minutes at the 1st Cloud Arena, on the day that the Mariners officially lifted the Northern Premier League trophy.
Luke Duffy then capitalised on an error from Shields goalkeeper Myles Boney to tap the ball into an empty net and halve the deficit before half-time.
Beesley’s side rallied well in the second half but couldn’t find the equaliser, with Isaac Buckley-Ricketts spurning their best chance after heading over in the closing stages.
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Speaking post-match, the Yellows boss was quick to praise his players as their club-record unbeaten run came to an end in the north-east.
“We’ve got to focus on the positives,” he said.
“We’ve not lost a league game since the first week in November, so [the unbeaten run] is an outstanding achievement for the players.
“I think everyone should be proud of it. It’s a club record, and, you know, we’ve put ourselves in a great position. We’ve got a home tie in the play-offs, which is what we needed.
“From a game point of view, we could’ve nicked a draw. We had some great chances in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and then the last 10 minutes of the second half.
“Maybe that’s what we needed, because we didn’t start very well and were 2-0 down. We were rocked in the warm-up when Tom pulled out at the last minute and we had to re-jig things quickly with no Mitch Duggan.
“We didn’t settle and we were 2-0 down. It’s tough to come from two goals down against anyone, never mind the champions.”
Beesley says his players cannot afford to let Saturday’s result affect them as they look to wrap up second spot in the division during the final round of the regular season.
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Town will welcome Hyde United to Cantilever Park next Saturday, knowing that equalling Bamber Bridge’s result at home to Ashton United will see them achieve a home play-off semi-final and final, should they reach that stage.
It will also be a big game for Hyde, who currently occupy the final play-off spot and know that anything other than a victory could see them drop out of the top five on the final day.
On the importance of keeping momentum going, Beesley added: “That’s 100% our job now. We’ve got to get in training on Tuesday, be bright, be breezy and get ourselves ready for Saturday.
“It’s a tough game and we want to go into it fresh, we want to go into it ready.”