BOSS Ian Colmer said his Branksome Railway players could “hold their heads high” after their FA Sunday Cup adventure today came to the end of the line.
The Telford Sunday League big guns booked a last-four trip to holders Oyster Martyrs thanks to Rob Millington’s double, Jaton Vernon’s penalty and efforts from Lester Alderson and Matthew Elsmore.
Railway, rocked by the loss to injury of midfielder Dan Blackburn after just seven minutes, then had defender Keith Whatling sent off for a foul on Millington which led to the visitors taking the lead from the spot.
In truth, Railway, who will take great consolation from being the Bournemouth FA’s most successful club in the history of the FA Sunday Cup, were well beaten, a fact acknowledged by manager Colmer.
“We knew we were up against tough opposition and they proved what a great side they were,” said Colmer, who was keen to thank sponsors Patrick’s Bar in Ashley Cross for their support throughout the competition.
“It was backs-to-the-wall after losing a key player so early and having Keith sent off midway through the first half. If we could have gone in losing 1-0 at the interval, I would have taken that. But to concede a second on the stroke of half time was a big blow.
“I know we conceded three more in the second half but the desire and passion from the players to see it through to the final whistle was admirable. They could all hold their heads high. It is an outstanding achievement to have reached the quarter-final of a national competition in our first season.
“We have four more trophies to go for and that shows we are doing the right thing locally. Maybe we weren’t quite strong enough on a national level but I was proud of every one of the players and everyone associated with the club.”
Railway were reduced to 10 men when Whatling received a straight red card having been deemed by referee Adrian Quelch to have denied Millington a goalscoring opportunity.
And Vernon made no mistake when he sent goalkeeper Andy Knights the wrong way from the spot to open the scoring after 25 minutes.
“We can’t use that as an excuse,” said Colmer. “I spoke to the boys afterwards and a couple said it was just outside the box. Keith said he put an arm on the lad but didn’t think it was enough for him to have gone down. The referee had to make a decision and it was a tough call in any standard of football. I had no complaints.”
Millington doubled The Plough’s advantage with a finely-taken second on the stroke of half-time before Alderson lobbed Knights to make it 3-0 following their first attack at the start of the second half.
Another fine strike from Millington, a volley from 20 yards, gave Knights no chance before substitute Elsmore netted from a tight angle to complete the scoring.
“We will come back stronger for the experience next season,” said Colmer. “The players have done this club proud over the past three years and we will be back next season to have another crack at it.”
Railway: Knights, Ross, Andrews, Corby, Whatling, Willis, Blackburn (Cullen, seven, Grimason, h-t), Hubbard, Purdy (Manuel, 58), Gallagher, Saxby. Unused subs: Boyt, Midson.