“WE will be back” vowed Dorchester Town boss Phil Simkin after his side’s final Conference South fixture of the season, and for the foreseeable future, on Saturday.

A 4-0 defeat at Ebbsfleet United may not have been the perfect way to end their tenure in the division, though Simkin is confident it won’t be too long before they are back.

“We’ve lost our Conference status, which is really gut-wrenching,” he said. “We did our best but it wasn’t quite good enough.

“Everyone said we would go down and we have, but there’s no shame in that.

“If we had gone down losing 8-0 and 9-0 then that’s different, but that’s not been the case.

“I’m proud of all the players that have played for me and I’d like to thank them for everything they have done.

“We will be back, believe me.”

Reflecting on the past season and looking ahead to the future, he went on to add: “For me, it has been the hardest season I’ve ever known, as a player or manager.

“It’s difficult to sum it all up. It’s been difficult and very upsetting at times, but the season is over now and we can put it behind us.

“The main thing is that the club is still alive. The people running the club are doing a tremendous job and they will continue to do so.

“I will do a job for them as long as they need me and I’m looking forward to next season.”

And there were still some positives to come out of Saturday’s loss for Simkin, who should have news regarding possible new signings in the next 10 days.

There was a full league debut for defender Oakley Hanger, in for the ill Jake McCarthy, while goalkeeper Shane Murphy was brought on for the last 20 minutes for his first Conference South appearance in Magpies colours.

Simkin was pleased with both of them and also gave special praise to on-loan centre-half Nathan Walker.

He continued: “Oakley came in at right-back and faced probably the best wide man in the league.

“He did really well and you can’t buy that sort of experience.

“Shane came on for the last 20 minutes but could do nothing about their fourth goal.

“He played very well after that and pulled off a great save, and his handling and kicking was excellent.

“Nathan Walker was absolutely outstanding and he was head and shoulders above the rest.”