DESPITE watching his Warrington Rylands side fall to a home defeat to Lancaster City on Saturday afternoon, Sam Wilson insists they put in the best performance of his spell in interim charge alongside fellow senior player Dean Furman.

And while they may have lost for the first time in seven matches, results elsewhere means their spot in the Northern Premier League Premier Division play-offs is now secure.

Two goals either side of half time did the damage for Blues - veteran midfielder David Norris but the visitors ahead on the stroke of the interval with Tom Kilifin then doubling the lead shortly after it.

Mo Touray converted his seventh goal in his past nine games from the penalty spot two minutes later to halve the deficit, but Rylands could not find a leveller.

Nevertheless, Wilson was proud of how his side performed at Gorsey Lane.

"I thought we were brilliant – I think that’s probably the best we’ve played since me and Dean have been in charge," he said.

"We were so dominant and were as in control as a Rylands team have been against Lancaster, who are a very difficult opponent, since I’ve been here.

"We had enough chances to win two games – we’ve spoken glowingly about our players in the final third in recent weeks – but we didn’t take them.

"Fair play to them – they’ve hit two good balls that have hit the back of the net and have defended their lead.

"The beauty of this game is it has a funny way of teaching you lessons and that will sting but if we keep playing like that, we’ll win more games than we lose so I’m not disheartened at all.

"I’ve told the lads to be proud and to stick their chests out because it was an outstanding performance, but we just weren’t clinical enough in the final third."

Rylands went into the game knowing their place in the top five would be sealed if they won or if Worksop Town failed to beat Morpeth Town elsewhere.

And Worksop's heavy 4-0 loss in Northumberland means the lowest Blues can now finish is fifth, meaning they will contest the play-offs in just over a fortnight's time.

Rylands visit Worksop for their final away league match of the season next weekend and a victory there plus Marine failing to beat Atherton Collieries on the same day will secure home advantage for the semi-finals.

They also have the only remaining unbeaten away league record in England's top seven tiers to protect.

"As a player at the time, I felt we had a decent squad and thought that might take us to somewhere between fourth and tenth," Wilson said.

"As the season’s got going and we’ve grown together as a group, it doesn’t surprise me that we’re in there.

"They’re a strong side. They had a disappointing result on Saturday – I don’t know if that rules them out of the play-offs – but we’ve got an away record we want to hold onto.

"We’re looking for a similar performance with a better result.

Warrington Rylands: Pilling, Smith, Brockbank, Neild, Butler, Furman, Hardcastle (Parkin), Shenton (Duffy), Pedro (Cockerline), Touray, Burns. Subs not used: Swaby-Neavin, Hough