Oakham United are beaten by Peterborough League Premier Division champions Moulton Harrox
Joint Oakham manager Stewart Lambie felt his players deserved more for their efforts as they went down to a narrow one-goal home defeat against reigning Peterborough League champions Moulton Harrox on Saturday.
Dec Earth's second half goal was enough to clinch victory for the Premier Division champions after a spirited Oakham display.
Lambie felt his side had created the better chances in the game against a visiting side who lost just two matches on their way to the title last season.
He said: "I couldn't fault the work-rate or the desire of the players. It was good to see because it hadn't been there for the last couple of weeks.
"It was a lot better performance. We had the better chances and a draw would have been a fair result.
"There were more positives than negatives even if we didn't get anything of the game."
Oakham were hit by the late withdrawal of Richard Nelson who joined the list of absentees that included injured trio Cameron Brookes, Craig Welbourn and David Bates.
But they created the better openings in the first period only to be denied by some fine saves from Moulton goalkeeper Wayne Wilding.
Dan Jenkins saw a close range header superbly saved by the Moulton custodian who then reacted swiftly to produce another smart save and keep out the rebound.
Alex Brockbank then burst clear only to be denied by Wilding in one-on-one as the first half finished goalless.
Oakham again went close to taking the lead after the break with Steve Mastin rattling the crossbar with a shot.
The ball bounced out and looked to be falling invitingly for home frontman Michael Nelson but, as he prepared to tap home, a superb last-ditch tackle kept Oakham at bay again.
Moulton then made the all-important breakthrough as the game entered the last 20 minutes.
Earth took on a couple of home players and, although his initial effort was saved by new Oakham goalkeeper Connor Barker - who has joined from Peterborough Northern Star - the Moulton marksman reacted first to fire home the rebound.
Oakham: Barker, Maxwell, Munton, Richmond, Gooding, North, Mastin, Lambie, Nelson, Brockbank, Jenkins. Subs used: Cameron, Kefford. Not used: Griffen.
Oakham are back in action tonight (Tuesday) when they make the short trip to face near neighbours Uppingham Town.
They will be without Mastin and Josh Gooding for the match at Tods Piece which kicks-off at 6.30pm.
Lambie added: "Uppingham had a good result on Saturday, but there's never much football played in these sort of games.
"It's always a battle and the team who wants it more will come out on top so we have to make sure that's us.
"I know we're good enough to compete when we've got everyone available - it's just about getting over these availability issues."