Belper Town boss Charlie Palmer took heart from his side’s performance in the Derbyshire Senior Cup final against National League North side Alfreton Town, despite the Nailers losing the game on penalties.
The teams couldn’t be separated after 90 minutes of football and ended up being beaten 4-3 in the shootout lottery.
But Palmer was pleased with the display his team put out.
He said: “If you look over the whole 90 minutes and the performance of my players, if we can maintain that standard for 70/80 per cent of next season, we will be there or thereabouts.
“This season is we have been too up and down and that has shown throughout the campaign, but the performance against Alfreton has given the players and the fans hope for success next season.
“When it comes to a penalty situation, you go for the lads who are confident. Alex Steadman has not missed a penalty all season except for the one in the shoot-out and Mikey Armstrong is a very good penalty taker.
“With Mikey having the cracking game that he had, in my view when he stepped up there was a strong possibility he was going to miss.”
Palmer is now looking ahead to the next campaign and initially a busy pre-season schedule.
He added: “I have got a list of seven games and Burton Albion, Ilkeston, Nuneaton, South Normanton and Staveley Miners Welfare are already on that. The lads will go up to Sheffield for some team bonding as well.
“The lads know and I know how important it is to have a good pre-season, I don’t think this club had a proper one last season, if the fitness is in the bank we will get off to a good start. Pre-season is essential.
“I don’t think I need to set out my ambitions to my players because they fully understand what I expect of them as a group.”
Nailers midfielder Eric Graves, meanwhile, has praised Palmer for the effect he has had on the club since his arrival from Long Eaton United.
He said: “The main reason I re-joined the club was because Charlie was here, I have known him for a long, long time now. I played with his eldest son when I was a kid so I have known the family for a while.
“I always said to Charlie if he got a job at this level I would come and play for him. Obviously I have played for Belper before, I used to live around here for five years so I know the area and the fans well.
“When Charlie wanted me to come in and help him out the club wasn’t in the best position, he knows what it takes to get a club up for the league and he stabilised us. We’ll hopefully be pushing to go up next season and I think we are in a good position to do that.”