LIAM Gilbert said his Oxford United side will be even more determined to push for promotion after they missed out on a spot in the Women’s Championship.

The club applied for one of the places on offer but that attempt has been unsuccessful.

Gilbert’s team has spent the last two seasons in the National League, however Watford’s successful bid has pipped them to a place in the Championship.

A place in that league would’ve seen United up against the likes of Liverpool and Leicester City.

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The news today will come as a big blow after the efforts gone through in putting the bid together, however Gilbert remained upbeat on the club’s fortunes.

He said: “We submitted a fantastic application which emphasised the facilities we have, the contribution we make to the development of girls and women’s football across the county and how we believe that promotion would have pushed us on to that next level, not just on the pitch. 

“It is disappointing not to be selected but I want to thank everyone who has helped us in our bid – not just the brilliant people who got our application together but also all the players, the staff and the supporters who have been amazing this last two seasons. 

“It is a setback but that is all it is.

“It won’t stop us striving to be better in everything we do and we will come back for pre-season determined to make amends and push for promotion via the league table this time next year.

“If you look at the last three years, we’ve got better and we’re moving in the right direction – this will just spur us on a bit more.” 

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Watford edged United to a place on points per game based on the last two seasons, leaving Gilbert and his players facing another season in the National League.

The U’s were second in the table before the season was curtailed in March due to coronavirus.

“We will never know what might have happened if the season had ended on the pitch,” said Gilbert.

“We were in excellent form and would have pushed very hard for promotion if the season hadn’t been declared null and void. 

“We are ambitious as a club and it wasn’t all on points per game.”

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Clubs in tiers three to six had until midday on May 4 to state their case for ‘upward club movement’ next season.

Applications were judged against on-field and off-field requirements.

On-pitch factors included points per game, cup competitions and goal difference across the last two seasons, while club structure, workforce and facilities were among the off-field matters.

“We had really positive feedback about what we’re doing as a football club – it’s just that 55 per cent of the criteria was points per game over the last two years and Watford’s was better than ours, that was the defining factor,” said Gilbert.

“The FA is in a lose-lose situation, there’s always going to be someone who feels a bit hard done by.”