DISAPPOINTMENT in defeat to big-spending FC Halifax Town shows that Gloucester City's players are coming of age as Blue Square Bet North performers, according to Tigers boss Dave Mehew.
City had claimed 19 points from a possible 24 before the Shaymen escaped Whaddon Road with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night – a result that could be a terminal blow in the Tigers outside play-off hopes.
The visitors led 2-0 before a Danny Andrew penalty gave the Tigers hope of turning the tables and although a late siege went unrewarded, Mehew could see the positives.
"It was a decent performance against a strong Halifax side and we were the better side until the first goal," Mehew said.
"That goal knocked the wind out of our sails a bit, but we didn't sulk and came back into it in the second half which is an encouraging sign.
"We had chances before and after we scored but the ball didn't fall for us in the end.
"But looking back on it, if you have to lose a game, you would chose to lose it like that because we gave it our best.
"It shows that all of the squad are learning and contributing to the effort. We have improved again this year as we have done in all the years I've been here.
"And looking at my budget compared to theirs, and given that we didn't have Darren Edwards, Tom Hamblin and Adam Mann only played a bit-part, we did really well to match them.
"Halifax will easily be in the play-offs at the end of the season and there is one place left that is up for grabs and we have a chance of sneaking it."
To have any chance of winning a top-five spot, Mehew knows seven points must be garnered from back-to-back home games against Harrogate and Altrincham and next week's trip to Workington.
And with Harrogate needing points themselves in order to augment their own play-off charge, the long-serving City boss is anticipating another keenly-contested encounter.
"It will be a tough game as I've been told that they are one of the best teams in this league on their day," Mehew said.
"But if nothing else this recent run where we've matched, and in some cases, beaten the teams at the top of the league shows that we'll be ready for them.
"They've had pitch problems in the last few months and they have had to play two games in the last seven days on a really heavy surface and that could tell.
"But we know that we've got to go out and give another performance as we did against Halifax and hope that the ball falls our way this time around."
Striker Edwards (knee) and defender Hamblin (neck) were having respective injuries assessed at training last night with the hope that both will be available to play either tomorrow or against Altrincham on Tuesday.