Shropshire Star

Kevin Wilkin makes apology to AFC Telford United fans after play-off heartbreak

Kevin Wilkin issued a heartfelt apology to AFC Telford United supporters after his side slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Leamington in the Southern Central Premier play-off final.

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Speaking moments after the full-time whistle, the Bucks boss could not hide his disappointment after his side’s lacklustre performance in front of over 4,000 supporters at New Bucks Head.

And while praising The Brakes’ for their ‘deserved’ victory, Wilkin was upset that his team failed to handle the occasion.

“I can only apologise because I feel like I’ve let a lot of people down today, and I’m not in the business of letting people down,” Wilkin said. “That’s where we find ourselves and it’s now about moving forward.”

He added: “We didn’t bring any rhythm to our game, and the decision making from certain players today was really poor.

“It kind of went back to the pre-Stourbridge away period of the season.

“We were passing the ball out of touch; we weren’t moving it in the way that we’re capable of and that sharpness wasn’t evident enough today.”

The Bucks never got going in front of a sell-out crowd in TF1 and were unable to create anything of real note in front of goal.

On the flip side, Leamington imposed their direct style of play on The Bucks and bullied their way back to the National League North.

“At this level ruthless is exactly what you have to be, you have to be nasty to get over the line and I think the occasion got to a couple of the lads today,” Wilkin said. “The fluency and athleticism that we showed on Wednesday wasn’t there today.”

He said: “I think you have to give great credit to Leamington for that.

“The way that they went about it, they were sharper, they put the ball in much better areas and were a little bit more incisive.”

Despite boasting players with play-off final experience, Wilkin admitted that his side may have found it tough stepping up to the occasion in front of the biggest crowd at New Bucks Head in more than a decade.

“We’ve had a few players out there who found the occasion very difficult to cope with,” Wilkin said. “I know things were good on Wednesday and we handled the pressure very well, but it was a big step up today.

“There was a lot of poor decision making in our group today which hasn’t been evident for a long time, certainly not in the second half of the season.

“I thought today we had too many players that didn’t step up to the plate if I’m being honest, but you have to give Leamington great credit for that too.

“They were on the front foot, they made life really difficult for us, but we’ve shown time and time again this season that we can overcome those situations and teams.

“Unfortunately today we didn’t and credit Leamington for that, they deserved to win the game."