Barnet goalkeeper Graham Stack believes the part-time sides who finished above Barnet in the Conference had more “desire and hunger” than the Bees this season.
Barnet ended the campaign in eighth place while part-time outfits Braintree Town and Halifax Town finished fifth and sixth respectively.
The Bees players and management anticipated a promotion challenge at the start of the campaign. But 46 games and four managers later, they ultimately fell short.
Martin Allen took over for the final ten games of the campaign and is charged with building a squad over the summer that can challenge for promotion next season.
Allen has said something is wrong when part-time clubs finish above the Bees and Stack agrees with the head coach.
He said: “The biggest difference I think, and I’ve got friends that play non-league, is the hunger of the players.
“Braintree come here (to The Hive) and we know their facilities are not good. That’s the same for Halifax, I spoke to their manager and they were struggling to find a training pitch at one point.
“You put that into perspective and compare it to what we’ve got here. Teams and players want to come here and prove a point.
“There is not a player in that Braintree side who wouldn’t want to play for Barnet next season. Unfortunately facilities don’t win you titles or matches.
“You need to have the right commitment, desire and hunger as a group to be successful. We haven’t got that and that is where I feel the part-time teams make up for the quality.”
The 32-year-old goalkeeper is honest about his form this season and admits he’s had an “indifferent” campaign He made 33 appearances for the Bees but missed more than two months of the season with a calf injury – a problem which he accepts was partly his own doing.
He said: “I was playing on the injury for three or four matches but was advised by the doctor and by Pete Friar (physio) that it could get worse.
“I don’t like missing games though. It was a calf strain but I felt that I could play and I’ll always try. Unfortunately it’s gone and I’ve ended up missing eight weeks in the season.
“I’ve then come back and been sent off, so that wasn’t great. After the lay-off I think I have come back and done ok but it’s a little different to last season.”
Allen now has the summer to reshape his squad and stamp his identity and philosophy on the Bees side.
He is a manager who knows what it takes to secure promotion, having won the League Two title at Gillingham in the 2012/2013 season.
Stack believes the club can challenge at the top of the table next season and feels Barnet’s younger players will be more prepared for the rigours of the Conference.
He said: “Allen’s won promotion with Gillingham and been successful at Barnet before.
“I’m sure there will be changes throughout the summer with players coming and going. I am looking forward to next season already because we’ve underachieved as a group this year.
“We have a very talented group here and I believed in pre-season, and after the first couple of games, that we were more than capable of challenging.
“It is an inexperienced group though, but now these young players have a season behind them and they know what the Conference is about.
“I think we’ll be more equipped to go up next season than we were this year.”