Ebbsfleet United boss Steve Brown hugely disappointed to exit the FA Trophy at Havant & Waterlooville
Steve Brown felt his Ebbsfleet side deserved at least a draw from their FA Trophy third-round tie at Havant & Waterlooville.
A 1-0 defeat at Westleigh Park on Saturday denied the Fleet a first quarter-final appearance for five years.
And with only two Skrill Premier clubs definitely through to the last-eight of the Trophy, there was a feeling of 'what might have been' afterwards.
Brown said: "It was a great opportunity to progress in this competition.
"I’m not a believer of putting weaker sides out in cup competitions and I’m not particularly a believer of saying 'that’s gone so we can concentrate on the league'.
"I’m absolutely devastated we haven’t gone through and so are the players."
Nigel Atangana was credited with the winning goal but Brown saw the midfielder's strike deflect into the net off an Ebbsfleet player.
He said: "It was end-to-end stuff and it was an own goal that decided it. It looked like it was going to be that kind of day, that a wonder strike or an own goal or a mistake was going to lead to the loss.
"I didn’t think we deserved to lose. Did we do enough to win? I think their keeper was busier than ours and I certainly don’t think we deserved to lose."
The pitch was holding a lot of water before kick-off and it cut up badly, particularly around the centre circle, during the game.
Brown said: "We said before the game that the conditions would make a difference to the cup tie because the pitch was very heavy. In terms of wind and rain, nothing, it was a perfect day in that respect, but the pitch was very, very heavy.
"We knew it was going to be a competitive game and there wasn’t going to be a great deal of football played because the pitch wouldn’t allow it.
"It took a little bit of quality out of the game, let’s be honest, but not a great deal. I think there was still some relatively good play but it did become a little bit more about playing against the conditions than it did about the opposition.
"We had to go a little bit longer in the second half, bypass the midfield a little bit, because it was sticky in there. Any time we tried to get the midfield involved, they got caught in possession."
Billy Bricknell had the ball in the net late on but the goal was ruled out, with the striker adjudged to have been offside when Daryl McMahon played a quick free-kick into his feet.
Brown said: "Bill’s a striker, so he honestly believes that he came from an onside position. But in all fairness to the linesman, the flag went up immediately, it wasn’t like he took his time and was in two minds about it.
"It was a very quick free-kick from Daryl McMahon that caught their back-four asleep and Bill finished as Bill does. It didn’t look offside from where we were but sometimes they go for you and sometimes they don’t."
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