Ossett United manager Andy Welsh insists that he “can’t fault” his players after an “outstanding” first-ever season came to a close last week.
United ended their inaugural campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Pontefract Collieries in the play-off semi-final last Tuesday.
Ossett lost just seven games in the league during the 2018/19 campaign, and only conceded 37 goals, the second least in the division.
Welsh’s men also marked their first-ever season with silverware, beating Guiseley AFC in the West Riding County Cup final in April .
“In the league there are 38 games, and if we were told at the start we would pick up points in 31 of those and make the play-offs, I probably would’ve snapped your hand off,” said Welsh.
“I would love to keep all the players together, because that is really important for next year. We want to bring in more quality in certain areas but I don’t want to change the group.
“Because this is a group that can go on and achieve good things.
“Next year, we want to be going into the league and challenging at the top half again.”
He added: “I think the players have been fantastic.
“One of the things that we always want to look for is the character of players and I think we have got that.
“But one thing that we haven’t done is score enough goals, we ended up drawing games that we should’ve won.
“But I can’t fault the players, they have been outstanding all season.”
Welsh - who was beginning his first full season as a manager - felt that there was more pressure on his side to succeed this year.
However, the United chief admits that it naturally took time for his players to settle as a squad.
He said: “Everyone at the start of the season was tipping us to win the league and to steamroll teams.
"And I felt that was a lot pressure on our group of players, the majority of who hadn’t played together.
“And things can be difficult until you get a settled squad.
“The first six or so weeks we were top of the table and playing really, really well. And naturally when you have a dip, good teams pick up points.
“We broke it down into little blocks, and that middle part of the season we didn’t pick up enough wins.
“Trying to mould a squad with players coming from Ossett Albion and Ossett Town, and trying to win the fans over as well, you have to go through a bit of suffering to get stronger as a group. And that is exactly what we have done.”
Welsh feels that United’s form has "put Ossett on the map" and is looking forward to doing it all again next season.
“I don’t know what people were expecting at the start of the season but it was an exciting project from the get go,” added Welsh.
“I think one thing that we have done is put Ossett on the map.
“I got a lot of messages from fans and other managers just saying what a fantastic season we have had.
“It has been a great season. We are a hard team to beat.
“Including the play-off games and the cup games, I think it is nine games we lost all season out of 50. That is a very hard to beat team.
“As a group of players, we have got to hold onto that.”