Louis Bell insists his Baffins Milton Rovers side have nothing to fear next season after their Wessex League Cup final defeat at the hands of Sholing.
Baffins, who recently netted promotion to the Wessex League premier division, went down 2-1 to their top-flight rivals at the Blanchard Wells Stadium yesterday.
Blu Boam netted a late consolation for the Eastern Road outfit but Bell reckons his division one side were far from outclassed.
The boss said: ‘I have to be proud of the boys and the way they performed.
‘We were up against a full-strength Sholing side.
‘They were big and powerful and used this to hit us at set-pieces.
‘However, I felt we more than matched them and probably played the better football.
‘Our goal at the end of the game came from the best bit of football.
‘Even when we were 2-0 down, we never gave up and that is the Baffins way.
‘These lads don’t know when they are beaten and we can go into the premier division next season with no fear.’
Boam got through a lot of early work as Baffins looked to take the game to their premier division opponents.
However, they fell behind on 13 minutes after a mistake by defender Danny Audin handed Sholing a corner.
Kevin Brewster delivered the ball and the unmarked Byron Mason headed firmly past keeper Tony Male.
Sholing took charge and Olli Watts rescued Baffins with a remarkable goalline clearance to keep out a Dan Miller header at another corner.
Baffins’ front pair Tyler Moret and Ryan Pennery were struggling to offer any threat.
Set-pieces were proving difficult for Baffins, too, as Sholing looked to exploit their physical presence.
In a rare attack, leading goalscorer Pennery flashed a shot narrowly past the far post.
But Baffins fell further behind seven minutes into the second half when they failed to deal with a bouncing ball inside their area.
The ball ran through to Dan Mason and he easily tucked it past Male.
At the other end, Pennery did well to control a pass and hook a first-time shot narrowly past the near upright.
Baffins refused to give it up and kept pushing for a way back into the game.
They felt they should have had a penalty when substitute Callum Dart was barged over from behind but the referee did not agree.
Boam worked himself into a good position on 75 minutes but sliced his effort wide of the near post.
It was a gallant effort from Baffins, who kept battling to the finish and were rewarded in stoppage-time.
Boam tucked home his shot from eight yards after a neat one-two in the area.
Baffins Milton Rovers: Male, Maddison, Watts, Yates, Audin, Cornish, Thomas, Boam, Moret, Pennery, White. Subs: Dart, Jackson, Willett, Saunders, Dean. Att: 450