Harpenden Town manager Micky Nathan was keen to look beyond the disappointment of a play-off semi-final defeat - and he has already set his sights on greater things next year.

Harps lost 3-1 at home to Leverstock Green in front of a record attendance of 917 at Rothamsted Park, but the boss would not judge his squad on one game, preferring to look at the season as a whole.

And he thinks the effort over the year, as well as the size of the crowd, means the club are in a perfect position to launch an assault on the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division title.

Herts Advertiser: Frustration for Harpenden Town manager Micky Nathan. Picture: PETER SHORTFrustration for Harpenden Town manager Micky Nathan. Picture: PETER SHORT (Image: Peter Short)

He said: "The players are down at the minute, but we'll regroup and I'm immensely proud of them all this season. 

"The club’s going in the right direction. 

"I'm not going to judge them on one game, I’m going to judge them over the whole season and what a season we have had. 

"I want to thank them all and I want to thank the club, the backing has been excellent. 

"This is just the start for us and we’ll look to see what we can do. 

"If we can keep the players together, there's no reason why we can't go and win this league next year."

The game itself saw Harpenden put on the back foot early after an error from goalkeeper Eman Olajide, Rawn Seale accepting the gift.

Harpenden did produce an almost instant response but Leverstock's keeper, Bowler, produced three excellent stops to dent James Ewington, Dan Palmer and Dave Keenleyside.

A second before the break from Radu-Mihai Stefanoaica gave Harpenden a mountain to climb and the game was wrapped up 20 minutes from time by Ethan Mooney.

Archie Locke did pull one back in the second minute of stoppage time and Ryan Plowright then fired over but there was to be no Hollywood ending.

"Full credit to Levy," said Nathan. "They came with a game plan. I think the difference was that they played the game and our players played the occasion.  

"It was all written for us, at home and a fantastic crowd behind us, but it is a game of football and I’m not going to be too downbeat. 

"The players have worked exceptionally hard all season and to finish third is an amazing achievement for this football club. 

"It equals our best-ever finish but it wasn’t quite meant to be. 

"Their keeper has pulled off three really good saves in the first half and Eman has had a lapse of concentration, which is unlike him. 

"He's been one of the best, if not the best, keeper in the league this year in my eyes. He is consistent, an ever present and he's a character. 

"It was a pretty poor goal to concede but we rallied and regrouped and we created a lot of chances in the first half. 

"To go in at half-time 2-0 down was a little bit against the run of play but you have to take your chances."

They still have a chance to finish the season strongly when they play the same opponents in the final of the St Mary's Cup.

That takes place on May 17.