Whitley Bay manager Marc Nash felt his side crucial moments did not go his side’s way in the 2-1 defeat to Morpeth Town on Saturday.
But the Hillheads boss could not fault his players’ commitment against one of the title challengers.
He said: “I felt we needed a big response after midweek and the players certainly gave everything, but we came up just short against a very strong Morpeth squad.
“It was our last match against the top four and we were determined to do well but fell the wrong side of the result.
“Some crucial things are just not going our way, and it’s tough enough anyway without our two main goal scorers, but we could have been 2-0 up and then all of a sudden the pitch has killed us when Tom Potter’s pass has bobbled and made Chrissy [McDonald] completely miss the ball, giving them a free run and cross for the equaliser.
“The second half opened right up and it was anyone’s game but we lacked the killer instinct in truth.
“Morpeth did push on in the last 15 and scored in that period, but we came back at them late on and you could see their relief on the final whistle.
“We more than proved we can match anyone on the day, but we are still way off competing with the likes of Morpeth in terms of squad depth and spending power, so it’s very much still a working progress.”
On Saturday Whitley travel to one of this season’s promoted sides, Ryhope CW, who include former Bay captain and manager Leon Ryan in their squad.
When the teams met at Hillheads on the opening day of the season, Whitley ran out 5-1 winners, but with the Wearsiders now showing improved form, a much closer game can be expected at the Ryhope Recreation Ground.