Ray McKinnon was lamenting football’s propensity for random acts of cruelty after his Brechin City narrowly lost out to Alloa Athletic.
City battered their opponents in the second leg of their play-off semi-final but couldn’t get the goals to overturn their 2-0 first leg deficit despite Alan Trouten’s late strike.
But McKinnon admitted he felt hard done by by things outwith his control like injuries and loanees returning to parent clubs, with those difficulties costing his side the League One title.
He said: “Football can be cruel sometimes. I knew we’d win the game on Saturday, I had a good feeling about it.
“We set the guys up properly and given a wee bit of luck we could have gone on and won that tie. I don’t think we had any luck in front of goal.
“We dominated the game from start to finish and it was an excellent performance. We’re a bit deflated but we just need to pick ourselves up again for next season.
“Their goalie was making double saves, we hit the bar, we did everything we could to try and win the game and climb the deficit back.
“A lot of credit goes to the players, they went out there and dominated a team who have given some sides a doing recently under Danny Lennon. We’ve come up short but we’re very, very pleased with the players.
“It just shows on their day they’re a really great side. We got punished for the mid-week display but that’s football.
“We had Masson, Trouten and Tapping in midfield. They were excellent and we dominated the middle of the park.
“It was great football and a great performance. We’ve come up short in the end which was very cruel, because we deserved to get to extra-time at least.”
The departures of Jamie Masson, Craig Wighton and Kyle McAusland from the team conspired alongside lengthy injuries to Alan Trouten - who still managed to finish top scorer for the club - and Callum Tapping.
Ray felt that a squad with those six in addition to his other players would have been well worthy of winning the title.
He continued: “We did so well this season in terms of players coming in. We brought in Kyle McAusland; unfortunately his circumstances changed, he was released by Rangers and was offered a full-time job at Dunfermline. We were supposed to keep Craig Wighton until the end of the season from Dundee. Jamie Masson had a spell away, he went away for three months.
“I feel if we’d kept them, and had Tapping and Trouten fit we’d have probably won that league.
“I don’t see other teams in the league losing players of that magnitude and still being up there at the end of the season. It’s a bit of ‘what could have been’ this season with keeping these players fit.
“I honestly feel if we’d kept these players fit we’d have been champions.
“If you’ve got a team with Masson, McAusland, Wighton, Trouten and Tapping at your disposal, you’re going to be right up there.”