Buckingham Town boss Chris Robson felt his side deserved to come away with at least a point after their 4-3 defeat to table-topping Peterborough Sports.
The Robins produced a much-improved performance following a poor run of form, but the title favourites ultimately proved too strong.
Robson said afterwards: “I was very pleased and proud of the lads today. We’ve had a difficult couple of weeks and a lot has been said but today the players gave a good reaction.
“We completely changed our style today. We took it right back to the basics, played a 4-4-2 and we were a lot more direct in getting the ball forward.
“The only disappointing thing was to come away with nothing which we didn’t deserve. I felt all four goals were preventable, especially the first three.
“The fourth you have to look at the officials as the linesman couldn’t keep up with play and the lad is clearly offside. He then controls the ball with his hand and puts the ball in the net which kills the game.
“Credit to Sports though, as they are the best side in the division and will probably win the title. We matched them today though and I believe if we played any other side from our division we would have won playing like we did.”
Buckingham started well and should have been ahead inside 50 seconds when Aaron Keir saved well from Drew Mitten, but two goals in quick succession put Sports into a 2-0 lead.
The home side continued to create chances and enjoy plenty of the ball with Akin Iluyemi’s fierce drive superbly saved by Keir before they deservedly halved the deficit when good play from Ilueymi set up Dean Catlow to score from close range.
Iluyemi and Mitten had chances to level but Sports, on the counter-attack, grabbed a third through Matt Cook to put themselves into a 3-1 half-time lead.
Buckingham showed the same spirit in the second half and again got within one goal after the impressive Iluyemi squared for Jonathan Oduro to score two minutes into his Robins debut before Andy Cleere, Mitten and Catlow all had chances to level.
It was Sports who bagged the crucial sixth goal, though, when Ondre Odain drilled home and that was enough to seal victory despite Cleere’s late strike.
Buckingham host Langley in the Berks & Bucks County Cup this weekend.
Robson added: “Today the players proved they can do as we ask, and compete with the best sides in the division, and we now need to do this week in week out if we are to get our season back on track.”