Louth Town boss Daryl Clare praised his ‘sensational’ side as their season ended with heartbreak in the NCEL League Cup final on Monday.
Just 48 hours after a 2-0 home win over Dinnington Town had given Town a third placed finish in the league, their highest ever, the White Wolves saw a 1-0 lead become a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Thackley at a neutral venue in Derbyshire.
Paul Goodhand had given Louth a dream start after just eight minutes when he nodded in from a long throw in front of a 200-strong crowd. And Town bravely held their lead until 67 minutes against the higher division opposition.
The breakthrough was a carbon copy of the opener, with Jordan Missin heading past a helpless Ian MacTaggert from another long throw.
Substitutes Brice Tiani and Mark Bett then combined to provide an opening for Nicky Matthews who put Thackley in front before Brice Tiani rifled home a third with eight minutes remaining to ensure a second successive cup triumph for the Dennyboys.
As always Louth Town put in an excellent performance but ultimately fell just short. They will take great heart from a third place finish in the NCEL Division One and an incredible run of 14 wins in 17 matches.
“Our form since the turn of the year has been sensational,” said Town manager Daryl Clare after the final.
“We fully deserved third place and went into the League Cup final playing with total freedom.
“I viewed it as a bonus game - almost a reward to the players for their great season’s efforts. It wasn’t about winning but having got to the final which was a great achievement in itself against Premier Division sides.
“We looked comfortable for 60 minutes and I really believed we had the trophy on the bus.
“Thackley scored and gained momentum and in fairness steamrollered us towards the end they deserved their win. We can be proud of our efforts. We gave everything.
“We have had a magnificent season and look to make further progress again next season.”
With only two promotion spots up for grabs and no play-off finale to the season, Town’s third place finish means they will once again be playing NCEL Division One football next season but should be among the favourites when the new campaign kicks off in August.
Town’s Matt Kennedy was named as player of the year after a fantastic 28 goals in all competitions.