‘A GAME too far’ was how Chippenham Town caretaker manager Gary Horgan described his team’s National League South play-off semi-final exit on Sunday.

Including on-loan Swindon Town players Mo Dabre and Harrison Minturn and former Robins alumni Will Henry and Jordan Young, the Bluebirds enjoyed a sensational run over the final few weeks of the season, culminating in a penalty shoot-out success away at Dartford in the play-off eliminator on Thursday.

But knowing victory over third-place Ebbsfleet United would have seen Chippenham just one win away from the National League, Horgan’s men fell agonisingly short courtesy of an extra-time defeat.

Having bravely battled through 90 minutes on Sunday, Chippenham’s luck ran out after Ebbsfleet’s Lee Martin – a former Manchester United, Ipswich Town, and Glasgow Rangers forward – struck past Henry in the 97th minute.

Reflecting on the extraordinary over-achievement from his team, Horgan said: “If I could sum it up, for us, it was probably one game too far.

“We’d played 120 minutes 72 hours prior while they had a whole week of rest, so it was probably one game too far for us.

“We were really disciplined and defended really well – we limited to a really small handful of chances.

“We had some really good moments in the game and played like we had over the last few weeks, but we just weren’t able to make the most of them.

“We weren’t able to find that energy that we’d had over the past couple of weeks. We just looked a little bit tired, so I think it was one game too far for us given the schedule.”

Since Horgan took over from Mike Cook in mid-April, the Chippenham boss won five of eight games in charge and only tasted defeat in his first and final fixture.

Chairman Neil Blackmore has confirmed that he would like Horgan to stay on and sign a contract as the Bluebirds’ first-team manager, but the caretaker boss was adamant nothing will be decided immediately.

Discussing both his and the club’s futures, Horgan said: “I’ve got to sit down with my family and decide what’s best for us.

“I will need to speak to the chairman to see what his thoughts and views are. We’ll sit down in the next couple of days and talk about the situation.

“It would be a crying shame if this group can’t be kept together because it’s already achieved so much this season.

“With a couple more additions, it can be a really strong and exciting squad for next season. I’d like to see it stay together irrespective of whether I’m here or not next season.”