United led until the last ten minutes when Ryan Brooke equalised. At the end they seemed unable to cope with the awful reality of another finishing-line defeat and there was some altercations between players and spectators.
The sense of despair was palpable. Halford sat alone in the stand, staring into the middle distance, declining all offers of conversation.
Phillips commented: “I have to be honest and say that it’s proving hard for Steve and me to get our enthusiasm back.
“We’ve narrowly missed out on promotion for a second season, and that’s three for Steve if you include his time at Mossley. It’s knocked us both for six, but as the days go by it’s getting a little easier.
“Over the game with Curzon I felt we had the better chances while they had the better possession without really threatening. If I’d had to put my life on someone scoring it would have been Chris Baguley and Kevin Leadbetter, but they didn’t.
“Penalties are a lottery and as far as we’re concerned I think we must have run over a black cat.”
The duo have already started the rebuilding process by getting striker Martin Pilkington to stay at the club next season, a campaign Phillips expects to be much more challenging than the one just ended.
He said: “No disrespect to the sides already in the Evo-stik premier division but we’ve now got a big club promoted from the first division north in Darlington, and then there’s Salford City who have big-name backing. There’s Ilkeston, and Blyth will also have money after their FA Cup run.”
“Although we’ve done a lot over the last couple of years it isn’t always possible to pull a rabbit out of the hat. There’s a lot of interest in our players too, but first and foremost Steve and I have got to get our enthusiasm back.
“But I’m very pleased that Pilky is staying. That’s a massive coup for everyone at the club as lots of teams were in for him. I know Pilky has more goals in him.”
Chris Baguley should also be available when pre-season training starts. Although it was said he had broken an ankle against Curzon, the joint was, in fact, badly bruised and swollen.
“It’s seven or eight weeks before we start training again. I’m hoping that with the rest he’ll be okay,” said Phillips.