Terry Brown bemoaned his side’s lack of cutting edge as Basingstoke Town continued their season wind down with a 1-0 loss at Royston Town.
Stopper Colm McAdden turned in a superb performance in the away goal, but an Adam Murray winner for Royston undid Town three minutes into the second half.
The Dragons are the top scorers outside the top five in the Southern Premier League but they fired a blank for the first time in nine matches as they suffered a third defeat in four games.
Boss Brown said: “We had plenty of possession and opportunities to find the final ball but we had no cutting edge.
“It’s a difficult place to come. They’re sixth in the league for a reason and they deserved the win. On another day we would have got some shots on target and got a goal or two.
“We should have done better as an attacking force.”
He added: “It was an end of season game. Neither side had any urgency but we didn’t have a shot on target all day so you’re not going to win games like that.
“It was a nice warmish day, in a lovely little setting in a beautiful part of the world. They had nothing to play for, we had nothing to play for and it had a little bit of that.
“We’ve worked hard on trying to keep them going and if we scored once we would have got two or three.”
The youngsters could be given some game time as 11th-placed Basingstoke face a hectic few days with three games in six days.
They travel to St Ives Town in a rearranged fixture tonight (Thursday) before hosting second bottom Dunstable Town and Bishop’s Stortford (19th) on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.
Brown said: “I’m glad we’ve got the extra bit of rest for Thursday [tonight] but come the following Tuesday when we’ve played Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday we will be tired.
“We talk about giving academy boys a chance, they will be given their chance. Hopefully one or two of them will grasp that.”