It’s not often a goalkeeper concedes five goals and earns plenty of praise for his performance.
But that was the case for Ramsgate’s Tom Hadler as he was the busiest man on the pitch at Plough Lane on Monday night.
The 27-year-old former Gillingham and Maidstone keeper produced a string of excellent saves to ensure a respectable scoreline as Rams lost 5-0 to League 2 AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup Second Round.
“I never like losing,” said Hadler “It’s a tricky balance as yes, I’ve made lots of saves, and I am happy.
“To make saves in a packed stadium under the lights and in front of the cameras is great but we lost. It’s always a tough one to reconcile.
“That was the busiest I’ve been in a competitive game. It was a good feeling to make lots of saves and be a big part of the night.
“You never like conceding goals, it’s horrible, and as a team it hurts us as we’re, thankfully, used to winning and are doing well in the league.
“It hurts to concede but obviously when there’s an opportunity to make a save, I try to do that, and tonight I’ve had quite a lot of opportunities. You can’t be upset at coming to a side like this and losing after our run, we gave it a good go.
“Football is a funny game. I missed out on certain opportunities and there were frustrating things at Maidstone last year for sure, but it is what it is. This was a great occasion to be part of and I think we’re going to go on and do great things at Ramsgate and I want to be a big part of that.
“It’s just a good place to be, I don’t think anyone can argue with a club that has 1,400 away fans and we can still hear them now outside the ground while we’re talking. It’s brilliant.”
Once the result was decided, the final scoreline was somewhat irrelevant. But Hadler was keen to focus on the achievement of reaching the Second Round - having started out in the Preliminary Round back in August - and taking so many supporters to SW17.
“At this point for us it wasn’t necessarily about the result, it’s about how we’ve done in the seven games to get here,” he reflected.
“Obviously, it was a shame but they’re an incredibly good side. We tried playing our way of football, it hurt us a couple of times, but we’ve had a good night. We can’t thank our fans enough, to have 1,400 people cheer us like they did was incredible.
“Goals change games and to concede early killed us a little bit. They had a bit too much for us so we can’t have any complaints.
“It’s that little bit of naivety when we come up against a team as good as them. They’re a Football League team so they’re going to press in different ways to what we’re used to. I’m not going to blame anyone, it was a shame to [concede] early but I thought we put up a good fight.
“When they knocked the ball around it’s just that bit sharper and then their press against us when we’re trying to play football is also that half a yard sharper. I think the pace of the game catches people out but there were some passages when we did knock it around nicely. You try and hold your own and put your own style on it.
“Playing better teams is always going to be a good thing as it gives us the chance to try and increase our tempo, deal with high pressure.
“Playing in front of 7,000 for a lot of our players was the first time. So to have that experience before we go to smaller crowds, they will hopefully raise their game to repeat these levels.”