Gainsborough Trinity slipped to a 2-1 defeat on Saturday, against high-flying Guiseley, as their play-off push suffered a set back.
Goals from substitutes Kevin Holsgrove and Sebastian Carole, within the space of five second half minutes, turned the game in the visitors’ favour after Dom Roma had given Trinity a first half lead.
Steve Housham, Trinity manager, insists the club’s season is far from finished.
Speaking after the full-time whistle he told the Standard: “I’ve told the players at half-time if they think it’s over they can talk to me and we will let them go from the club.”
“I want players that still believe. I still believe. I’ve told them straight, if you don’t believe don’t bother coming.”
He admitted that his players failed to put in two consistent 45 minutes, having had the lion’s share of the play before the break.
“It was a game of two halves really,” he said.
“First half I thought we did very well, back to our old selves.”
“Second half we stopped what we were doing and they did what we did to them first half. We were never in it second half but, saying that, they only had 10 minutes of the game.”
“I’ve said to the team in there, you’ve got to take chances. That’s why they are second in the league.”
“They’ve had a 10 minute spell where they have passed it round us, we couldn’t get anywhere near them, and they’ve scored two.”
“Steve (Kitteridge, Guiseley manager) has just come up to me and said for 80 minutes we were the better side but they’ve had a good 10 minutes and that’s why they are second and we are where we are at the minute.’
The game got off to a scrappy opening with neither team creating anything in the first five minutes.
The first chance came in the seventh minute when Paul Connor and Jamie Yates combined well to set-up Terry Hawkridge for a volley but the Gainsborough man saw his shot well blocked.
Trinity then started to apply the pressure to the Guiseley back line but couldn’t quite find the final pass.
It nearly came in the 10th minute from a corner but defenders Luke Waterfall and Danny Hone couldn’t quite get their heads on it.
The Blues continued to come forward and they got their reward in the 16th minute.
Craig Nelthorpe sprayed a long ball out to the advancing Roma, who cut in and took a shot at goal.
It was blocked, but it came back to him and second effort found the corner of the net via a slight deflection off the unfortunate Mark Bower.
The game then swung from end to end.
Firstly a poor clearance from goal-scorer Roma allowed Patrick Mullen Guiseley’s first chance – which he fired wide – and secondly Nelthorpe hit the bar to the home side with a dangerously curling free-kick.
Just before the half-hour mark the home side had further chances to extend their lead through Hawkridge and Hone but neither could put the ball past Guiseley keeper Steven Drench.
Nelthorpe was next to try his luck but his long-range strike failed to find the target.
The second half started off slowly but when the pace did start to pick up it was Guiseley who had the first opening.
Substitute Holsgrove had their first real sight of goal of the game but his right-footed was turned away by the legs of Trinity keeper Jason White.
The game then entered another lull with both teams committing a number of fouls but, with just 18 minutes remaining, the visitors got back on level terms.
Two substitutes combined as Carole cut the ball back from the byline and Holsgrove was on hand to tap it into the net for 1-1.
Just a couple of minutes later Trinity had the chance to retake the lead thanks to good work from Hawkridge but his pass to Nelthorpe was just slightly too heavy and Nelthorpe’s shot was well blocked.
It was, however, the visitors who took the lead on 76 minutes.
A free-kick was nodded down to the feet of Carole and he calmly slotted the ball past the helpless White into the corner of the net.
Soon after they had a great chance to make it three but Joshua Wilson headed wide from Carole’s cross.
In the last minute of normal time Mark Jones had a glorious chance to equalise for the home side but unfortunately for Gainsborough he could only side-foot a tame effort into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Blues boss Housham said: “You look at Mark Jones, you’ve got to put those chances away. He is clean through, he’s a striker, he should score a goal.”
“We’ve got to win games. I was pleased with the first half performance. I thought we worked their socks off but we just died a wee bit.”
Gainsborough Trinity: White, Roma, Wilde, Waterfall, Hone, Thompson, Clarke (Stamp), Nelthorpe,
Yates (Jones 83), Connor (Barraclough 64), Hawkridge. Subs not used: Platt, Young.
Guiseley: Drench, Rea, Meynell, M. Wilson, Ellis, Bower, Marsh (Pearson 66), Lawlor, J (Carole 66).
Wilson, Mullen (Holsgrove 45), Holdsworth. Subs not used: McWilliams, Giles.
Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire).