Shaw Lane Aquaforce's progress to the brink of professional football has stalled for the first time in their history but their owner remains determined to get them to the highest non-league level.

The Shaw Laners were beaten 3-1 in Saturday's play-off final by Coalville Town and, in the process, failed to secure a fifth successive promotion since becoming a Saturday side in 2011. Aquaforce, who will be known as Shaw Lane FC next season, came extremely close to tasting the champagne again. They had led against Coalville before collapsing in the final ten minutes. It follows a torturous league campaign in which they finished just a point off the one automatic spot after closing the gap on champions Stafford Rangers from 26 points while playing twice a week for two months.

Craig Wood, the club's chairman, maintains they want to eventually reach the National League, formerly the Conference, and sees no reason why they can't make it a step closer next campaign.

"After coming so close to promotion we have got to set it as the target for next season," said Wood.

"We had a five-year plan and we are still on track. Of course we still want to get to the Conference. If we go up next season then we will only be one off the Conference North. We will be a lot better-prepared next season and the playing staff who have done well for us will be retained."

The off-season will now been spent helping the club develop, with the pitch – which cost them several postponed fixtures in the winter – set to be improved. Plans for a reserve and youth team will also be discussed. Wood added: "The emphasis really will be on the pitch. We need to make sure that we don't have the same problems again.

"We only just fell short this season so we are not a million miles away and I feel we were unlucky not to win the league. We need the progression at under 18 level to bridge the gap and a reserve team too. That is something we will talk about. An extra terrace will also be built."

Manager Craig Elliott feels staying down could have its benefits in the long-term. Their rise through the footballing pyramid has been rapid and has left them without a pathway to the first team for youngsters and a generally smaller fanbase than other clubs at their level.

Elliott said: "It might sound strange but it lets everything else catch up a little bit. It makes us have to be a little bit more patient and that could be a good thing. "Coalville have been to the play-offs twice before going up so it sometimes takes time."

Lee Bennett put the Ducks ahead on 32 minutes with a measured header and they held onto the lead until the 67th-minute equaliser. Leicestershire side Coalville then struck twice in the closing ten minutes to ensure it was they who joined Stafford Rangers in the Evo-Stik Premier.

Elliott added: "It was a game of two halves and we could not have too many complaints in the end. We had very little spark in attack or defence. We didn't have the legs. We're still feeling hurt and digesting it all. We will learn from the mistakes we've made this season but the lack of games in December and January caught up with us in the end. We got away with it last season but we can't in the future."