By Alec McQuarrie
Coalville Town boss Adam Stevens could not have been prouder of his side’s players and supporters after they were knocked out of the FA Cup by League One Charlton.
The Leicestershire side, who play in the Pitching In Southern Premier Central division, travelled to the Valley and conceded two late goals from Jack Payne and Chuks Aneke to go down 4-1.
After Payne and Jayden Stockley had headed Charlton to a 2-0 lead, Coalville’s Ashley Chambers pulled one back for the visitors with a sumptuous lob just after half-time.
And despite the result, Stevens reflected with immense pride as his side gave a valiant account of themselves.
“I sit back and think about how well we’ve done,” said Stevens.
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“We played against a top-end League One side. It was always going to be a big ask to win there.
“If you go through their squad, they’ve all played hundreds and hundreds of games in the Championship and in the Football League. But the lads did themselves proud.
“And our supporters were electric to be fair. The fans couldn’t have done anymore for us. It was unbelievable to see that.
“I’m proud of the players, proud of the football club and proud of the fans.”
But Stevens couldn’t help but feel Coalville could have gone one step further, with a replay still within reach as the match drew to a close.
“It’s a shame we conceded those two at the end because it made the result feel further away from us than what it was,” said Stevens.
“At 2-1 we had a chance but Ash’s [Ashley Chamber’s] back foot slipped. We were in the ascendancy at that point.
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“I think we’re all a tad disappointed in the fact that we were 2-1 down with nine minutes to go then we made a sloppy decision from a freekick, playing it short instead of delivering it.
“But if it goes to the top of the box and we put it in the top corner we’d have been saying how good it was.
“So we can’t dwell on it. We’ll just move forward now and we’ve got a big league campaign ahead.”
Stevens also applauded his opposite number, Ben Garner, who didn’t take the seventh-tier team lightly.
Stevens said: “Ben treated us with the utmost respect with the team they picked. He watched our game against Notts County twice.
“He was saying that was probably a League Two performance. They gave us the full respect that our players deserved so fair play to them.”
And on a day in which two other Pitching In Southern Premier Central sides featured in the Emirates FA Cup First Round, Stevens lauded the achievement of Alvechurch, who stunned Cheltenham Town 2-1 to navigate their way into the second round.
“I’m delighted for Alvechurch,” said Stevens. “It’s testament to how many good sides are in non-league.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for them which goes to show there are plenty of top footballers in our league.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/