Proud Ramsgate boss Ben Smith insisted he was never going to change the way his team plays - despite coming up against Football League opponents in the FA Cup Second Round.
The Isthmian South East outfit insisted on playing out from the back as they were knocked out 5-0 by League 2 AFC Wimbledon live on ITV4 on Monday night.
But Smith was proud that his players refused to change their ways, even if it proved their downfall, particularly for the opening goal inside the first 10 minutes.
“There was no way we were going to change the way we play - what’s the point?” stated Smith. “We got all this way playing that way so why change now?
“I’m not going to ask my players to change the way they play next Saturday in the league so by changing things that just messes with people’s heads and it shows a lack of belief.
“You have to come here and have some belief to play the way we play, I thought the lads had that. The first goal was a sucker punch as I thought we started really brightly, we had a few forays into their half and you thought there could be a game on here.
“It was a lack of movement in front of Alfie Young, it looks like he’s made the mistake there but I actually thought he was outstanding. There’s times where you play sides like this, you kick it long and you’re under the cosh, camped in your penalty box for the whole game and it wasn’t really like that.
“We did have some of the ball. I am disappointed because we lost a game of football, no matter who we’re playing, as we’re used to winning but we’re immensely proud.”
AFC Wimbledon made only two changes from the side that played their previous league match, a 1-0 loss at Gillingham.
They got their rewards for not disrespecting either the competition, or their part-time opponents.
“You saw the difference in levels,” added Smith. “When they pressed it was a proper press, it was strong and aggressive.
“Fair play to them, they’ve actually not disrespected us, they’ve taken it professionally, shown what a great club it is, had us watched and done all the right things.
“They were better than us on the night of course but I think they were expected to be.
“I said to people close to me before the game if we get it under six, I’d be very happy. I know it sounds defeatist but you’ve got to be realistic as well.
“These lads that we’ve got in our dressing room, yes we’ve players who have played at (higher) levels but they’re now at the end of their careers.
“We’re four leagues below, they’re a full-time outfit and they should be doing that. I thought there were little spells where we gave a good account of ourselves but it was naivety at times where we conceded the goals.”
Smith’s day job is as a deputy headteacher at a school in Margate but being manager of Ramsgate has been like a full-time role in recent weeks, with numerous media outlets all wanting a slice of his time.
“I wouldn’t say I’m one for the limelight but it’s been nice to get some recognition, you’re better in the limelight than not I guess,” said Smith.
“Last year was a terrible year for football for me so it’s nice to bounce back, take stock of what didn’t go well previously and crack on this year. We’ve started really well and long may that continue.
“It's (the cup run) been unbelievable. Now it’s over I can say that. Obviously, balancing the two jobs, if you’re going to call this a job – certainly when you’re in the FA Cup Second Round it’s a job! – with the media and everything is fantastic. When it’s gone I will miss it but it does consume you.
“You’re getting phone calls every two minutes, can we have a word, can you go on this show or do this, so my day job is pretty hectic as it is.
“I just think for the fans and the club as a whole, I’ll reflect and look back in 10 years’ time and say what a great run but for (the fans) they go home happy having seen their side non-stop and give everything on the pitch.
“My sides do that, I know it’s a cliché to leave everything on the pitch, but I really think they did.
“We brought a 16-year-old on today, his friend passed away in the week, he’s had his senior debut away to AFC Wimbledon and that sums our club up. It wasn’t a token gesture, he’s been working hard behind the scenes and it’s just wonderful we can do that.
“We’ve really done our club proud tonight, not just the players but the supporters as well. There was one idiot who ran on at the end - he’s not a supporter of the football club, that’s just someone out for a day trip.
“But the support the fans have given us has been incredible, not just tonight. There will be a thousand at our next home game, it’s proper support and long may that continue.”