Heanor Town bowed out of the FA Vase on Saturday as visitors Sporting Khalsa ran out 4-2 winners.
Whilst Khalsa, who are flying high in the level above Heanor, deserved their victory, the Lions deserved credit for remaining in the game for its majority and often giving as good as they got against a talented side.
Ultimately, it wouldn’t be enough, but as their unbeaten league form dictates, there surely remain some great days to be had by Heanor before the season is out.
Here, they came close to an opener in the opening minute as Kyle Daley fired over the bar, then Max Thornberry headed Daley’s right-wing corner against the crossbar.
But after Khalsa’s Sean Williams had forced a good save out of Lions keeper Jordan Pierrepont, the visitors led when the dangerous Gurjit Singh was released on goal and fired home first time.
James McGrady shot just wide for Khalsa and then the visitors were denied what looked a penalty when Carlo Franco was upended in the area, that moment proving pivotal as Heanor then equalised as Kieran Debrouwer fired home from the edge of the penalty area after the ball was cleared to him in space from a Daley corner.
That was how the game would remain until the break but Khalsa would come out and quickly enforce a two-goal lead after it, first Singh firing home his second via Pierrepont’s foot on 48 minutes and then defender Tes Robinson heading home a Williams cross at the back post.
That might have been that, but a double substitution by the Lions brought immediate dividends as one of the new arrivals, Jon Jebbison, lobbed his side back in the game with his first touch on 67 minutes to reduce the arrears.
Jebbison saw another effort saved late on while at the other end, Khalsa's Josh McKenzie struck a post, but the game was wrapped up in stoppage time when McGrady eased any worries caused by some late Heanor pressure by rounding Pierrepont and