Richard Brady believes the Leatherhead squad will stick together next season despite relegation to Ryman Division One South.
After one season in the Ryman Premier, the Tanners relegation was confirmed on Saturday as they lost 2-0 to Kingstonian and rivals Harrow Borough and Hastings United surprisingly beat play-off chasing Lowestoft Town and AFC Hornchurch.
Having taken just two points from their first 10 games though – after which Brady replaced Mick Sullivan as manager – Brady was proud of the players for taking the relegation fight to the penultimate match and is convinced they will be around to launch a promotion push next season.
“It is a really funny atmosphere among the players – you would not believe they are in a changing room that has gone down,” he said.
“They are very upbeat as we have won quite a few games and it has not been all downs, there’s been quite a few ups.
“They feel that whatever level we are in next year they want to be part of it and I have had very positive feedback.
“This whole relegation battle we have been under pressure but that has been lifted now.
“It is a relief for the players and certainly for the management.
“Last year, 38 points was enough to stay up and we were looking at getting 42 to be safe, which we are only one point off.
“We were hitting all our targets and anyone looking at it with 10 games to go would have thought we would be safe around the 45-point mark.
“It is disappointing but we have to be realistic in what we have done and say we gave it a good shot.
“I was proud of the players for the effort they gave.”
The Tanners hit the crossbar and missed a number of chances against Kingstonian but, ultimately, it was results elsewhere that confirmed their relegation.
“We hit the crossbar, Tommy Hutchings had two one on ones and Mark Simmons had one too and we started to wonder what was going on,” added Brady.
“I think the football Gods must have been against us – especially with the other results.
“But it is one of those where you have to say fair play to Harrow and Hastings, they upped the ante.”