Defiant Alfreton Town boss Chris Moyses insisted the Reds could avoid relegation after a narrow defeat to big-spending Salford City.
The 3-2 loss at the Impact Arena left Alfreton five points clear of the bottom three in the National League North.
Asked if he was confident that his side could stay clear of trouble, Moyses said: “l think we have got enough in the building that will keep us in this league.”
A workmanlike performance by Alfreton Town could not prevent leaders Salford from strengthening their position.
But Moyses said two key decisions went against the Reds — Alfreton felt Salford’s opener from a corner should have been a goal kick ahead of a foul on keeper Chris Elliott, before the visitors’ second appeared offside.
Asked if the second being allowed was a decisive moment in the game, Moyses added: “Massively — and l think also the opening goal, which the lads seem to think was kicked straight out for a goal-kick and not a corner.
“ l think the goalkeeper was fouled in the box.
“l’m not having a go at the referee — l don’t go down that route normally, but two big decisions there made a big difference to the game.”
The visitors forced five corners in the opening six minutes, the last of which led to the opening goal.
But Elliott emerged from the goalmouth ruck with a head injury that necessitated lengthy treatment after Daniel Livesey had headed home from Nathan Arnold’s delivery.
Alfreton responded with an outstanding header by Luke Shels from Brendon Daniels’ 21st minute free-kick.
But the Reds were level for just four minutes before Salford restored their lead when Jack Redshaw converted Thomas Walker’s left flank cross.
The goal was again shrouded in controversy with the home side claiming offside.
Salford went into the interval with a 3-1 lead after Gus Mafuta guided home a Michael Phenix cross in the second minute of first half stoppage time.
lt was scant consolation for Alfreton that they won the second half, Marcus Marshall stabbing home a Cieron Keane cross with virtually the last kick of the game.
It was far too late to set up a grandstand finale.
Moyses reflected: “lt was a solid performance from ourselves — the second half was a lot better than the first.
“We conceded a sucker punch just before half-time, which was disappointing, but all-in-all the lads worked hard and stuck to the game plan.”
ALFRETON: Elliott, Wood, Shiels, Beevers, Allan, Keane, Disley [Everington 59], Jennings [Marshall 68], Platt, Daniels [Sharp 68], Westcarr. Subs not used: Topliss, Baxendale.
SALFORD: Crocombe, Nottingham, Touray, Burton [Allen 76], Livesey, Maynard, Arnold, Mafuta, Phenix, Redshaw [Dudley 76], Walker [Houghton 79].
Subs not used: Askew, Dieseruvwe.
Referee: Aaron Jackson.
Attendance: 984 [183 from Salford]