BARROW boss Rob Kelly admitted this game was a step too far for his drained players after their defeat to Southend.

The Bluebirds secured their Football League status with victory at Forest Green on Tuesday night.

Scott Quigley’s 15th goal of the season was in vain as Phil Brown’s charges did their bit through goals from John White and Terrell Egbri at Holker.

But the Shrimpers were still condemned to non-league football as their 101-year stay in the Football League came to a painful end after Scunthorpe’s draw against Bradford resigned them to successive relegations.

“Maybe it was just a game too far for us at the moment, particularly after Tuesday night,” admitted Kelly.

“We did a lot emotionally and physically in that game. We tried to freshen it up but it just wasn’t to be.

“It was probably just a 90 minutes too much for us at the moment.

“Of course Tuesday night is going to affect them.

“They’re human beings and we’ve been in this pressured situation for so long. It’s only natural.

“I thought if we could keep it even in the first 45 minutes that we could kick on and have a real chance.

“The goal changed it, it gave them something to cling on to.

“Fair play to them, they were organised and they haven’t conceded many goals since Phil [Brown] has gone back in and we just didn’t have enough.

“Goals change games. I think it was a tight game and at times in the first half we played some good football.

“We’re disappointed with the manner in which we conceded the goals.”

And Kelly was quick to jump to the defence of goalkeeper Joel Dixon after his mistake led to a frustrating defeat.

The Bluebirds’ number one has been one of the club’s standout performers during their first season in the Football League for 48 years.

Kelly added: “He’s been unbelievable for 45 games for us.

“He’s disappointed but if I think back to all the games he’s played, the level of consistency he’s offered us, to say he’s only personally responsible for one goal is remarkable.

“You have to be mentally tough to play that position. I always say number nine and the goal keeper, they’re the two most demanding positions because you’re in the spotlight.

“If you make a mistake there’s either a goal behind you or you put the ball into the crowd when you should score.

“There’s no hiding place. He’ll be suffering now, but he’ll be the better for it. It will toughen him up more and he’ll move on - he’s been great for us.”