HARWICH and Parkeston boss Kieron Shelley felt his side's midweek cup exit was a useful barometer to gauge their progress this season.

The Shrimpers bowed out of the League Challenge Cup after a 4-1 defeat at neighbours Brantham Athletic, on Tuesday night.

Brantham play at a higher level - step five of the non-league pyramid.

And Shelley felt the match was an eye-opening yardstick in terms of what his side are doing right - but also where they can still improve.

"We came over here to play football and match Brantham," said the Harwich boss, who had seen his side blow away Wormley Rovers 3-0 in a Thurlow Nunn League first division south contest on Saturday.

"But the score was quite harsh on us.

"It was always going to be difficult after conceding twice at the start of the second half but we showed heart and determination.

"We matched them all over the park in the last 20 minutes.

"There was good energy and no-one let their heads go down. We didn't roll over.

"No-one likes losing, though, and the result gave us a bit of a wake-up call in terms of where we need to be.

"We'll learn from that and won't take it as a negative.

"There were times when we looked like a premier division side but then we switched off and went back down to the level we're at.

"Sometimes you get punished when that happens, especially when you're playing a team with a point to prove.

"Brantham never switched off and kept running all night and they're the qualities we need to emulate.

"It's a learning curve and that's what we've got to do to be where they are."

James Lee scored twice for the Imps and he was joined on the scoresheet by Luke Barnard and Jack Madley.

Sean Bartlett pulled one back for Harwich.

"It was a difficult time to play Brantham," added Shelley, who takes his side to Burnham Ramblers on Saturday.

"I believe they should be up in the top six or seven of their division, given the people involved, the management team and players they've brought in.

"They looked fit and organised and they had a reaction to their result at the weekend (a 4-0 defeat at Mildenhall Town).

"They did a professional job on us and never let us get above our station.

"They were switched on, a little bit fitter and a little bit quicker.

"From our point of view, we were disappointed but not downbeat.

"As long as we learn from it, we're moving in the right direction."