MAIDENHEAD United chairman Peter Griffin admits that Port Vale’s superiority in front of goal was the difference in their televised FA Cup first round replay last Thursday.
United took an early lead through captain Alan Massey, but Michael O’Connor drew Port Vale level and two second-half goals from Ajay Leitch-Smith booked The Valiants spot in the second round.
Griffin told the Observer his club can be proud of their efforts, both on and off the pitch, and the challenge now is to get back to reality, starting with a visit from Bideford in the FA Trophy this Saturday (3pm).
He explained: “Whenever you go out of the cup you don’t want to, but we did really well, especially in the first-half, and we can hold our heads very high.
“We took the lead and the game to Port Vale, but ultimately you saw the finishing from a League One side. That was the difference between the two teams.
“It was very different to the first game when we were holding on a bit to begin with and gradually go into the match. We were on top and we scored.
“We were on the front foot and got the goal and the crucial point was could we kick on from there. But when you’re a National South side against a League One team what can you do?
“Port Vale got a little more into the game and they finished well. That’s what happens.
“There were 60-odd places between the two teams and in the end that showed, but we ran them close and they were very happy to get through.
“Port Vale showed their quality with the finishes but I still feel we were in it. Even at three-one we had chances. We threw the extra man forward and gave it a go.
“There was a great header just before the end of 90 minutes and it we had made it just a one-goal difference then we knew we could have given it a go.
“But I can’t dwell on individual chances. We did really well and ran them close over the two games.
“The ovation and guard of honour Port Vale gave our players was fantastic and really well deserved, so I’m delighted overall really.”
Looking forward to getting back to normality, Griffin said: “The FA Trophy has snuck up on us a bit because we’ve been in the cup, and we’re still sixth in the league with games in hand.
“We never said we would be a play-off team this year, we said mid-table or above and we would still be happy with that I think, but we’re doing well so let’s see how it goes.
“We’ve got a long way to go but we will let the dust settle and just get back to the league, that’s what it’s all about really.
“The FA Cup is great, but cups are cups, you enjoy them when they come along but that’s all it is.”