EBBSFLEET United manager Steve Brown admitted his side can probably forget about the title after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at promotion rivals Eastleigh.
The result leaves Fleet third in the Conference South, trailing Eastleigh by eight points and 19 behind leaders Bromley.
And Brown was left to accept they are now fighting for the play-offs as opposed to the championship and an automatic return to the Conference.
He told BBC Radio Kent: “The way Bromley and Eastleigh have performed this year, we’ve always pegged from day one that the play-offs were our aim.
“Effectively what has happened today is that the play-offs are now our only focus.
“We thought if we came here today and got three points, with Bromley playing Eastleigh on Tuesday night there still might have been an opportunity to hang onto the coattails and maybe put a little bit of pressure on those two.
“That wasn’t to be so now realistically we are looking at a play-off place and that will be our aim from now to the end of the season.”
Brown had no complaints with the two penalty decisions given to the home side after the 3-1 loss at the hands of Eastleigh.
The Fleet went into the break 1-0 down after captain Paul Lorraine fouled Jai Reason in the box, who brushed himself down to score from the spot on 19 minutes.
Brown’s side then equalised seven minutes after the interval through Billy Bricknell but then saw Chris Sessegnon sent off for hand-ball on the line as Reason scored a second penalty before completing his hat-trick with a 73rd minute curling shot.
However, Brown refused to criticise the referee following the match.
The Stonebridge Road chief explainedt: “The first one obviously we’re disappointed with.
“Paul Lorraine got caught on the wrong side and in the recovery he leant into Jai Reason, which is enough for the referee to give it as a penalty.
“You take those on the chin, as you’ve seen them given and you’ve seen them not.
“The second one was hand-ball on the line, I can’t have any arguments if I’m honest.
“It was a bit of a scramble, but I could see from where I was on the bench that Sessegnon used his hand.
“The referee deemed that denying a goal-scoring chance, so off he went.
“What can you do? I saw him use his hand, although I don’t think it was intentional, as he made a sliding tackle and the momentum carried him forward.
“But I suppose by the letter of the law the referee would say he denied a goal-scoring chance and used his hand on the line.”
Brown added: “Once we got the equaliser I honestly thought we thought were going to go on and win, which was probably our undoing.
“We got picked off with the second because Eastleigh were countering on us.
“It was a shame because we had our team talk at half-time and put our tactics in place.
“We then got that goal and the belief on the bench was that we had a chance.
“I thought we were going to go on and win, and discussing with the players after the match, they thought it was time to turn the screw and go for the win, but we ended up being countered on.
“It’s difficult to take but we’ve got to stop giving away the first goal and having to fight to get back into games.”
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