Aldershot Town manager Tommy Widdrington was proud of his side’s FA Cup run after they fell to a 4-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion in the third round proper on Sunday.
The Shots were 3-0 down at half-time, but were rewarded for their efforts with a late goal by substitute Ollie Bray.
“The overriding emotion is absolute pride,” said Widdrington.
“I’m delighted with the way the lads responded. I think we shot ourselves in the foot in the first half but we’re against really good footballers.
“West Brom are a class act near the top of the Championship and they’ve got every chance of being Premier League again next year.
“I wanted the fundamentals to be right. We made some mistakes and they punished us but that’s what happens when you play against top class opposition.
“At half-time we were really calm. I said we can get something positive out of this experience if we play more like us in the second half and I thought we did.
“We used the ball better, we went toe-to-toe. Obviously they were getting a little bit younger with the substitutions they made, which evened it up a bit.
“I’m absolutely thrilled we scored a goal because I back our lot to score in every game they play. It’s another story for the FA Cup – Ollie getting his first goal in his second appearance.
“All in all it goes with disappointment because we’re out of the cup, but it’s been a really good journey and I hope it gives the lads the ambition for more.
“As a football club we have handled ourselves fantastically well to get here and perform like we did.
“I didn’t see any issues with fitness, agility or mobility. Some of them were bigger, faster and stronger than us, but that’s why they’re playing in the Championship. They’re elite athletes.”
Widdrington praised the 4,861 Aldershot supporters who made the trip to The Hawthorns.
“The Shots fans were outstanding,” he said.
“Anybody who’s come I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart – but I don’t want this to be the end of anything.
“It’s not even the beginning of anything – it’s part of the journey. I want us to have more days like this.”
Next up for the Shots is a trip to National League North outfit Bishop’s Stortford in the fourth round proper of the FA Trophy on Saturday (3pm), and Widdrington has told his side to have the right mentality.
“We’ve got to be really mentally strong because going from The Hawthorns to Bishop’s Stortford in the FA Trophy – there won’t be 16,000 people there,” he said.
“It’s going to be about us and how we approach that game. We want to progress in that competition.”