GARRY Hill admitted his tactical gamble failed to pay off as Weymouth crashed 4-1 at second-placed Cambridge City.
The Terras saw their slim Conference South play-offs effectively ended after the hosts struck four second-half goals at Milton Road.
Substitute Brian Dutton netted a last-minute consolation for the visitors who included debutants Charlie Macdonald, Steven Clark and Vil Powell.
Despite the heavy defeat, boss Hill felt his side were unlucky not to return to Dorset with at least a point.
He told Echosport: “The result flattered Cambridge big time.
“If you had said to anyone watching the game on the hour it would end 4-1 to them, I’m sure they would have said `You’re mad’.
“For 60 minutes we were the better side and probably should have been ahead with the rub of
“Vil Powell had a couple of decent chances and we also thought we might have had a penalty for a foul on Charlie Macdonald just before they opened the scoring.
“The way the game was shaped up, the first goal was always going to be decisive and it proved that way.
“Once Cambridge got their noses ahead we took a gamble to try and get back in it because we firmly believed the points were there for the taking and unfortunately that decision didn’t pay off.
“We went for it today because we knew we had to win if we were to keep any hope of reaching the play-offs alive.
“That’s why I took the decision to start with three forwards in Kirk Jackson. Vil and Charlie who all did well considered it was their first game together.
“When we went 1-0 down I took Charlie Weltch off, a defender, and went even more attacking but before we knew it Cambridge took advantage of the gaps and were out of sight.
“In those situations you may as well lose 4-1 as 1-0 because there is no point just sitting back when you need a victory.”
Hill added: “I know it’s a heavy defeat but I can’t be too hard on the lads because Cambridge are second in the league, are a good side, and we knew it would be tough.
The players all worked hard for the cause, as they have in our previous two games, and I learned a lot more positive things about our squad through this game.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose and realistically our play-off hopes now are very, very slim indeed.
“What we have to do over the rest of the season is try and get as many points as possible and finish as high as we can.
“These remaining games will also be a learning curve for myself and the players as I assess what’s needed in the summer.”
Hill praised debutants winger Steven Clark, striker Charlie Macdonald and Grays Town on-loan forward Vil Powell, who was the pick of the bunch at Milton Road.
“I was pleased with the performances of the three new lads, they worked hard and the signs look good,” he said.
“None of the boys have signed any sort of contract, the deals are purely to allow us to have a look at them and vice versa.
“They fitted in well considering it was their first game together, but I’m not planning on making any long-term decisions on them until the summer.
“In the meantime, we’ve got a Sammy McGowan Cup game at Dorchester on Tuesday which will give me a chance to assess a number of our other players who have not be involved in any of the games since my arrival a couple of weeks ago.”