FITNESS played its part in Warminster Town’s FA Vase exit at the weekend as Andy Crabtree’s side bowed out of the competition full of pride, despite losing 3-1 to Bitton in the fourth round.

Town actually led the game by a goal to nil with 20 minutes remaining after Ian Jeffrey converted a penalty with 22 minutes played following a foul on Jack Miluk.

But Bitton’s call to make three substitutes in one tactical move paid dividends as the hosts’ McClennan, Egan and Kyte found the back of Town’s net.

Naturally, Crabtree was devastated to miss out on a spot in the Vase’s fifth round. But he reflected on his squad’s remarkable cup run with great pride after they reached the fourth round for the first time in the club’s history.

Crabtree said: “We gave a good account of ourselves, but fitness played a big part. Though it’s no excuse, we had a couple of injuries going into the game.

“And that told in the end, Bitton proved their superior fitness and experience. What encouraged me was that you wouldn’t be able to tell which team played in the Premier Division for 70 minutes.

“Where we had worked so hard in that first 70 minutes, we lacked that edge in the final minutes.

“We took close to 100 supporters there, which was brilliant to see. And I’m glad they came because we did our best to put on a good show for them.

“We knew it was going to be tough, but we worked hard enough to keep believing until the end. But Bitton showed great character and good luck to them in the next round.”

Warminster return to action on Saturday when table topping Longwell Green Sports visit in Toolstation Division One.

With further fixtures against Bristol Telephones, Wincanton Town and Wells City scheduled between now and February 1, Crabtree’s XI have little time to reflect on their cup heroics.

And the Town chief vowed to ensure his players remain focused on the job in hand with regards to their sixth-tier commitments.

He added: “We’ve got a lot of games between now and the end of the month, there won’t be any time to sit back and reflect on what we’ve done.

“It will be busy for the next month or so. Longwell Green this weekend will be tough, they’re top which speaks for itself.

“But I hope it will be an even game.”