Gutted front man Greig Spence believes he could have fired Raith Rovers to promotion had he been given more game time during the title run-in.
The striker hit a purple patch either side of the new year, scoring seven times in eight games, including an equaliser against Ayr United in a 1-1 draw at Stark’s Park on January 13.
That proved to be his last goal of the campaign as his first team starts became limited following the arrival of Willis Furtado from Airdrie, and the return of Lewis Vaughan to the attack.
“Back then I was scoring goals every week and playing every week, and it really got my confidence up,” Spence said. “A few boys came in and I found myself out the team.
“It was really hard to take from the side because I feel I could’ve given so much more for the team. I got behind the boys as always – I’d never say anything bad about another player – but I was genuinely sitting there feeling I had the goals that could have won us the league.
“There will be other players believing they had something to offer as well.
“It’s been a frustrating last few months, but the whole team has been in it together, and it’s just gutting.”
Spence insisted that he was not having a dig at manager Barry Smith, who brought him to the club in the summer having previously worked together at Alloa.
“I can see it from the gaffer’s point of view,” he said.
“I’ve been in to see him a few times but I totally respect his decisions.
“It’s good players he’s playing. Willis is a totally different player to me, Jonny Court and Lewis Vaughan too.
“That’s the way he decided to go, and I’ve respected that.
“I’ve got a good relationship with the manager, and no way I’m having a go at him. He picks the team, and maybe when I’ve had the chance to come off the bench I should’ve been doing better.
“But then you can look at it both ways.
“When you fall out the team and get thrown in here and there it’s hard to get back to that level of a top striker.
“You need to be playing week in, week out, with a manager who believes in you, and a team that believes in you.
“I felt for a time the team believed I was the one who would score us goals if we kept it tight at the back.
“You just lose that wee fire in the belly when you’re coming on for 10 minutes here and there, and it becomes difficult.
“I still maintained hard work in training and never once let my head go down, but personally, I just feel I had so much more to offer in last few months, and I’ve not had the chace to do.”
Spence was speaking after making a late substitute appearance in the play-off defeat to Alloa on Saturday that condemned Rovers to another season in League One.
“The dressing room is really quiet,” he said. “We came out fighting, I don’t think you can fault the effort of any player today, but the damage was done in the first leg.
“We had a goal at the start of the season. We believed we could do it, and we’ve had opportunities to do it.
“The blame lies with the players. Myself included, it’s not been good enough.
“Everything was at stake for us. It’s your livelihood, your job, your career.
“I feel for the fans too, but I think we’re on the same page here. We all wanted one goal, and we’ve not got it.
“You see frustrations over the season, with boys having wee altercations with fans, but it’s just because we care.
“There’s not one player that doesn’t care – it wouldn’t be accepted among the boys. At the end we’ve just not been good enough.
“We had a chance to win the league on the final day, but if we hit the levels we feel we could have hit, we should have been clear in the league.”
The future for Spence, and the majority of his team mates is now unclear, but the striker would love another opportunity to fire Raith back to the Championship.
“I believe I’ve got something to offer that’s an asset to the club,” he added.