STAND-IN skipper Sam Reed was tough on himself after Bury Town’s Ryman League Premier Division play-off semi-final defeat on Wednesday night.
Captaining the side in the absence of the suspended Tom Bullard, Reed put another selfless shift in up front, but was unable to find the crucial breakthrough Bury needed.
The Blues’ number nine struck the post at the start of the second half and within 60 seconds they were behind after Hornchurch broke and scored from a corner.
“I should be scoring those chances,” he said. “Within seconds of that chance we found ourselves 1-0 down – it’s just one of those things though.
“I’m disappointed. I thought we matched them in the first half, but we didn’t really get going in the second half and played into their hands.
“They deserved to win in the end – there’s no two ways about that – but we gave it our all.”
Bury were not quite up to the performances they have produced at times this season, with Billy Clark’s wonder goal the only moment the Blues had to cheer.
Some may have argued – despite finishing seven points and three places behind Hornchurch – that Bury went into the game favourites to win having beaten their hosts in both regular season fixtures.
But the Urchins’ more direct approach favoured the conditions on a slippery and boggy Bridge Avenue pitch, with Bury unable to display the slick passing football that has made them one of the most attractive sides in the division.
Reed said: “We’ve learned the play-offs are a complete lottery and anyone can beat anyone on their day – our target for next season now is not to be in the play-offs but to be going straight up.
“We’ve gone close twice, looked to improve on last year and didn’t do that, but we were beaten by the better team and all we can do now is win the cup on Thursday and try and get that automatic promotion.”
Despite Bury’s play-off heartache, they could still end the season with two pieces of silverware in their trophy cabinet by retaining the Suffolk Premier Cup when they face rivals Lowestoft Town – who will contest the Ryman Premier play-off final against Hornchurch on Monday – at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road on Thursday (7pm).
“A cup double would be massive, as would beating your local rivals in the final,” added the striker, who will again lead the side out in the absence of Bullard.
“Everyone wants to win trophies and to be playing on that pitch again, so a victory would provide us with some consolation.”
n Report and more pictures on Pages 132/3