Kimberley Miners Welfare joint boss Martin Lench says he couldn’t fault his players’ efforts after they took Midland League side Heanor Town to a replay in the FA Vase before finally being knocked out on Wednesday night.
A 2-2 draw at the Town Ground on Saturday was followed up by Heanor winning the replay at Kimberley on Wednesday night, two first-half goals enough to end Welfare’s resistance.
And despite Lench being disappointed to have seen the Miners beaten, he felt they could come away with their heads held high.
He said: “Heanor are a well drilled and well organised team from the division above and in the end they’ve proved too strong for us, but that’s taking nothing away from our lads who we know can cause any team problems.
“I think Heanor might have understimated us a bit on Saturday and that element of surprise could have won us the game - if anything we’re more disappointed to have not won that one rather than the replay as on Wednesday Heanor were more prepared for what we’d throw at them.”
Lench, whose 35-yard free-kick on Saturday had earned the replay, felt Heanor should have been reduced to ten men during the first-half of Wednesday’s game following a strong challenge from Matt Harris on goalkeeper Shaun Bodkin that eventually saw the latter require hospital treatment for a fractured eye socket.
He said: “It had to be a red card. The Heanor lad has run on to a through ball he was never going to reach and has then pretty much stamped on Shaun’s head when he had the ball in his hands on the floor.
“The ref very quickly pulled the lad aside but why he only gave him a yellow card is beyond me.
“In the end though we’ve lost to a couple of bad goals from our point of view but can hopefully use this experience as a platform for the rest of the season. Hopefully some of the spectators who turned up in good numbers on Wednesday will want to return as well.”
Attention now turns back to the league with a trip to third-placed Radcliffe Olympic on Saturday and then another away game at Arnold Town on Tuesday.
Welfare currently sit eighth in the table having won five of their nine games so far and Lench is keen to see them now push up the table.
He said: “Any manager will tell you the league is the priority and we now need to kick on and start putting another good run together.
“There’s been a massive turnaround at the club since last year and that’s largely been helped by the arrival of Ian Deakin (joint-manager) and Jim Wynne (coach) who have brought great experience and professionalism to the table.
“The belief in the squad is unreal and that will only help us push on.”