May 4 2012 By Greg Burns
ANDY Leese was proud of his side in the wake of their 'gut-wrenching' play-off semi-final defeat.
The Generals boss gave his final team talk of the season on the Testwood Stadium pitch after their agonising 3-2 loss at AFC Totton on Thursday night as the Stags celebrated wildly.
He shook the hand of each of his players before walking down the tunnel in front of the applauding travelling fans who appreciated their efforts during a long and successful season.
But it was little consolation for the manager desperate to guide Chesham to the Blue Square South especially with the manner of the loss.
Two errors – from reliable pair Rob Bartley and Mark Lambert – and a refereeing howler that saw them unable to make a change in the build-up to conceding a second cost them.
Leese said: “You have to give credit to Totton for taking their chances but I think we have lost it rather than they won it.
“I don't want to sound bitter or cynical but we were in the ascendency in the first-half and have had countless chances.
“But we make a horrible error that is uncharacteristic and, when you play top sides, you get punished and that is what happened.
“The second goal is an appalling combination of errors from the officials. We have given him the number, asked him to stop the corner but when the referee looks around the fourth official refuses to put the number up.”
Trailing 2-0 at the break, Chesham showed the spirit and team ethic that has epitomised their campaign to claw it back with two quick-fire goals.
But, looking like the only team able to win the tie, they were undone by another error.
“It is a gut-wrenching feeling at the moment. We said at half-time that is wasn't over and we still had a chance,” said Leese. “Sometimes at 2-0 you are dead and buried but we felt we were in it.
“It is an error of judgement because usually he (Lambert) is so decisive in those situations. He is devastated. It was the timing because we have got a foothold and looked likely to go on and win.”