PROMOTION dreams may be over for this season - but John Coleman has promised to get a title winning team together for the new campaign.
The Accrington Stanley manager believes he can assemble a squad that can take the Reds back into the Football League and that lessons have been learnt by everyone in their first season as a full-time professional team.
The Reds can finish no higher than ninth - after finishing tenth last season - after they lost to a late goal against Woking on Saturday and drew 3-3 in an entertaining encounter in their final home match of the season with Aldershot on Tuesday.
And now they will be looking to end the season on a high at play-off certainties Hereford on Saturday in the final Conference clash - Stanley striker David Brown's former club.
Coleman, who was sent off against the Shots, admitted: "I am disappointed in the season as a whole because, with what we have in that dressing room, we are miles in the top five in the league and we have under-achieved.
"But the top and bottom of it is that we have conceded too many goals - 58 of them - and a lot of them have been individual errors. You can't challenge for honours if you are going to concede 58 goals in the season. There is no hiding from the fact and it has cost us.
"But I know we have got the tools to be a really strong side if we make the right decisions in the summer and there is no reason why we can't go on and win the league next year."
The Reds chief has promised there will be new faces at the club. Five players are out of contract while some have one year options left which may - or may not - be taken up.
Lutel James is out of contract and the chairman has said the striker has played his last game for the Reds. And defenders Jonathan Smith and Paul Howarth along with midfielder Steve Flitcroft and keeper Danny Alcock, among others, will all be battling to see if they can stay at the Interlink next season.
Reds hitman Brown was only signed until the end of the season so he is fighting for a new deal while winger Gary Roberts has been playing on non-contract terms for the Reds.
"We will get new players in - we need a couple of defenders - and we will tighten up defensively. We are not a bottomless pit and the logistics say some will have to go and that will be my decision in the next week," said the boss.
He admitted, despite the outlay on going full-time and only moving up maybe one place in the league, that this has been a better season for the Reds in only their second Conference season.
"I think we are moving in the right direction as we have improved from last year and we need to take another step along the way.
"I do not think we are a way off from winning the league but we just need to get that consistency and we need to defend better.
"And the main work of the summer will be towards achieving that. Once we have got the fitness out of the way, our priority will be defending."
Coleman admits he is at a loss as to why his side have conceded so many goals.
"We have got experience a the back. Robbie Williams has played a hell of a lot of games, it is his seventh season in non league football, so he has around 250 games for Accrington.
"And Mike Flynn's experience is never ending. We have missed Cav (Peter Cavanagh) a bit in the last few games but Paul Howarth has come in and done okay.
"And we haven't had a settled keeper all season and that can't have helped.
"But it is not just the defence - you have to defend as a team. At the moment, the way we defend, it means it is in the lap of the Gods. What we have to make sure is that we make things go in our favour and be proactive about it. I intend to be proactive by going out and getting a few defenders."
He continued: "We have been on a rollercoaster this season and at times we have been beathtakingly good and at times we have been breathtakingly bad.
"You only have to see us against Barnet and Stevenage and spells against Aldershot when we were fantastic. And at Exeter where it was a sterling performance.
"But always know at the back of your mind that we are capable of throwing in a bad one against a bad side and we need to eliminate that and hopefully we will.
"By hook or by crook, we are going to keep out goals next season and hopefully I will bring in the right players to do it."
While troubled by his defence the Reds chief admits his hitman have come up with the goods with Paul Mullin on 20 league goals for the season and Lee McEvilly on 16.
"I would have liked another five goals from both of them but scoring goals is not a problem - we are the third best in the league, with 72. Lee and Paul are both good players and if you put them on the open market tomorrow there would be a big queue.
"Lee, on his day, is a weapon which teams find hard to cope with but he needs to get more consistency and model himself on Paul a bit more.
"Paul hasn't got his physical attributes but what he has got he uses to the hilt. Lee is a baby really. If you compare him to Mullers, there is 10 years and it comes with experience. The more we learn, talk and coach him, he will become a better player and put more fear into defenders."
It may be last chance saloon for some players tomorrow to try to impress their manager at Hereford who beat Stanley 4-0 earlier in the season in the FA Trophy at Edgar Street.
"We have been to Hereford twice in the last two seasons and both times we have had a man sent off (Steve Halford and Mike Flynn)," said the manager.
"But I said after the Trophy game, that the league game will be an altogogether different game. We want to win and then beat Burscough in the FA Trophy final second leg on Tuesday and then it is a long hard slog in the summer."
Ged Brannan returns after a one-match suspension for the Reds.