BRYAN HUGHES has vowed to build a squad that will get Wrexham challenging for promotion next season after seeing his side suffer play-off heartbreak.

Wrexham secured a play-off spot for the first time in six years but a 1-0 defeat against Eastleigh in the eliminator game at The Racecourse means the Reds will be preparing for a 12th campaign in non-league.

But Hughes insists progress has been made this term and there are a lot of positives to take after finishing fourth with a haul of 84 points, and registering a club record equalling 26 clean sheets.

"The club is progressing," said Hughes.

"You look at some of the things they have achieved this year; guaranteed to be in the play-offs with games to play, highest points total for a while, we are going in the right direction.

"The clean sheets we have had and equalling the club record, it is all positive but it was disappointing to lose.

"The fans came out in their numbers and they were great again, getting right behind the players, but fine margins have cost us the game.

"It gives me a pre-season to build. That's not to say some of these players won't be here next year because they have done really well this season.

"But it is about reflecting now what has gone on this year and try and build a team that is hopefully going to get us promotion next year."

Hughes could not criticise the efforts of his players against the Spitfires as Wrexham twice hit the crossbar in the second half and also had a goal controversially ruled out.

Wrexham also had two chances cleared off the line in extra-time but Eastleigh captain Danny Hollands' stunning volley ended the Reds' promotion dream and took the Spitfires through to tomorrow's semi-final at Salford.

"I can't say too much about the players because they have given everything out there," said Hughes.

"The crowd applauded them off at the end. The players were on their knees at the end, all on the floor.

"That is how much it means to them, what it means to everyone.

"We have got to learn from it now and we have got to reflect. It is a new challenge now going forward, especially for myself.

"I have been here three months now and we have achieved some good things as a group.

"Now it is a time to refocus, rebuild and go again next year."

Hughes was aggrieved Kieran Kennedy's goal was ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Luke Southwood, insisting no contact had been made, but was pleased with the chances created.

A lack of goals has been Wrexham's downfall this season and failure to score proved costly.

"I was proud of the players for getting into those positions," added Hughes. "It wasn't our night.

"The only thing that was lacking was us putting the ball in the net and we did that but it got ruled out for a foul which was the wrong decision in my eyes.

"That's what referees are there for. He was quite quick in his decision to cancel it out but I hope he looks back at it because big decisions like that determines the whole season.

"My players have given everything this season.

"They have had to deal with a lot of change; three managers and three new assistant managers along the way, and it has never affected them.

"They have stayed together, been committed to the cause and they are absolutely devastated because they feel we should have won.

"I said a moment of quality would probably win the game and he won't hit a better ball than that."