Leamington boss Paul Holleran admitted his side committed “football suicide” on Tuesday night after seeing their FA Cup first round dream die at Aggborough.
Having fought back to earn a replay against Worcester City in their third qualifying round tie last Saturday, Brakes had the benefit of knowing their fourth qualifying round opponents ahead of the replay.
A home draw against Step 5 side Greenwich Borough was the carrot, but goals in the early stages of both halves condemned the visitors to a 2-0 defeat and left Holleran to reflect on a chance missed.
“It was a great opportunity with a home draw in the fourth qualifying round,” said Holleran.
“It was never going to be an easy game but we gifted them two goals. We might as well have wrapped them, put a bow on them and put them in ourselves.
“There are plenty of games like this, where it is so tight. The first goal is so important and after four minutes we find ourselves 1-0 down again.
“It changes the momentum and gives us a mountain to climb.
“Everyone is bitterly disappointed.
“We feel like we’ve let people down.
“What is hard to take is that we were the architects of our own downfall.
“That’s where the anger comes from. It was football suicide.”
Brakes’ players took to social media in the aftermath of the game to express their frustration at the defeat and while Holleran said he could never question the character of his side, he knows lessons needed to be learned, starting at home to Stockport County tomorrow.
“One thing you can’t knock is the effort and desire of this group.
“You can knock their naivety and their poor decision-making and they can manage games better. You can fault them for that.
“But there’s no doubting the commitment of all 18 players.
“We’ve got another big game around the corner and it’s a great opportunity to bounce back.
“But at this level you’ve got to be at your best every week.
“We’re not a Barrow or an AFC Fylde. We can’t afford to be giving teams a one-goal start.”
Holleran came in for some abuse from certain sections of the travelling support at the final whistle with a burger hurled in his direction.
And while the Brakes boss joked he would like red sauce on it next time, he said he shared the fans’ frustration.
“We had great backing and really wanted to do well for them.
“I think some fans think I do somersaults as soon as I get out of the ground and life goes back to normal.
“But it’s not like that. It takes over our life.”