ROB Small was left frustrated as Bowers & Pitsea missed out on making the semi-finals of the Essex Senior Cup.

The Isthmian North table-toppers suffered a 1-0 defeat to East Thurrock United, with experienced striker Shaun Batt grabbing the only goal of the quarter-final tie.

And Small felt a place in the final four was there for the taking as Rocks travelled to the Len Salmon Stadium with a threadbare squad.

“I feel like it was a missed opportunity because we were at home and played well,” said the Bowers boss.

“There were large parts of the game where we could have got our noses in front, so it’s frustrating.

“It reflects what happened on Saturday (when Bowers lost 1-0 to Heybridge Swifts). I think frustration is the word to describe the two games.

“It was a similar story to Saturday because I was proud of our performance.

“We were very good with and without the ball, but we lacked the ability to put the ball in the net at the crucial moments.

“I totted up seven or eight good chances for us and we weren't clinical.

“I’ve counted two chances for them. The goalkeeper has made a worldie in the first half and then they scored with a free header.

“I think we certainly gave a good account of ourselves against a team two divisions higher.

“I’m grateful to the players for their efforts and I think that we more than matched our opponents.”

With Small resting attackers David Knight and Brad Warner, Luke Hirst was given an opportunity to impress.

And the Bowers chief is pleased to see the Dagenham & Redbridge loanee progressing.

“We left two senior attacking players on the bench and gave Luke Hirst a start,” added Small.

“He is really impressing us as the weeks go by and he is a young boy that we certainly have a lot of belief in.

“It was a good opportunity to show what he could do.”

Having suffered two narrow defeats on the trot, Small is hoping to see Bowers’ luck change against AFC Sudbury this weekend.

“You can’t dwell on the results, missed opportunities or the goals we’ve conceded,” he admitted ahead of Saturday’s home clash.

“We need to keep moving forward and grind out a result, one way or another.

“At the moment we are having a couple of games where things are not quite falling for us, so what we need to do is find a way to get the ball over the line.

“Whether the ball goes in off someone’s backside or it’s a great goal, I’m not worried.

“That will give us a lot of belief to move forward with.”