There was pride in defeat for Lordswood boss Matt Barman on Tuesday night at Cray Valley.
The Wood were beaten 4-1 in their FA Cup preliminary round replay at Cray but apart from a 20-minute spell in the second half at the Artic Stadium, where they conceded three goals, they more than held their own.
Lordswood had taken their higher-league opponents to a replay after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Martyn Grove.
“That 20 minutes will hurt the boys, it will hurt us,” said Lords boss Matt Barman.
“We let ourselves down a bit in that period after the early goal (on 48 minutes). We were like rabbits in the headlights but I can’t fault them, they are young boys and that’s what this is, it is about getting that experience and to make us stronger as a team, and to make us stronger as a unit moving forward.
“We battled right to the last kick, we created one or two chances towards the end and were unlucky not to nick one and we had a good penalty shout as well.”
Lordswood took the lead in Saturday’s game through James Jeffrey but were pegged back as Kyrell Lisbie equalised for the Isthmian South East side, taking the tie back to the Badgers Sports Ground.
The opening half was an even contest. Lordswood missed a few early chances following mistakes at the back from Cray but took the lead when Lisbie’s pace took him in on goal and he slotted the ball past keeper Ivor Williams - who had replaced the injured Tom Crump (ankle).
Lordswood kept going and hit the woodwork before a foul on Ethan Stewart led to a penalty that Jeffrey converted in first half stoppage-time.
Cray turned it up a notch second half, with wideman Michael Ademiluyi - on as an early sub for injured Denzel Gayle - proving a real handful. Freddie Parker put them back infront when a 48th minute free-kick was cleared into his path before goals on 59 and 68 minutes from the rapid Cray substitute took the tie beyond them.
Lordswood never gave up, with Jeffrey having a reasonable penalty claim turned down, but there’s a weekend double to now focus on for Barman’s men.
They host Wessex Football League Division 1 side Ash United on Saturday in the FA Vase before a home league game against Medway rivals Hollands & Blair on Bank Holiday Monday.
Barman said: “I want us to bottle that up, feel that pain, they were all hurting afterwards, they were devastated. I want them to take that little bit of pain into the next game and make sure those little errors and little mistakes, we cut them out.
“We have got a young side and there is hardly any experience, but experience isn’t about age, it’s experiencing things and that is what those nights and the game on Saturday will give them. If we do things right as a management and players that will make us stronger.
“We got the first win in the FA Cup for Lordswood in quite a few years, it’s progress, and I am extremely proud of them. I know they are down, I know they probably feel they let themselves down for that 20-minute period, but over the 180 minutes, I couldn’t be prouder of them, it’s just a few details which we can learn from.
“I am over the moon with the effort and they can hold their heads up. Cray are one of the favourites in their division and at half-time I am sure they were thinking, ‘oh my God, we don’t want to be on the end of it’, but they stepped up and fair play to them, they have some good players, a good manager, they’re a good team, but for a while we had them rattled.”