Brett Poate admitted the ‘proudest day’ of his footballing career ended a bittersweet occasion.
The Gosport Borough defender missed out through suspension when former club the Hawks’ faced Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup in 2008.
But having been named in Alex Pike’s starting line-up for yesterday’s FA Trophy final, Poate proudly took his place on the hallowed Wembley turf – only to walk off in frustration as his side lost 4-0 to Skrill Premier high-flyers Cambridge United.
The 30-year-old said: ‘It was the proudest day of my footballing career to walk out at Wembley.
‘But at the end of the day we were there to win a cup final.
‘And unfortunately, it is sloppy goals and not quite taking our chances which has cost us really.
‘But I’m very proud of our achievements so far this year in this tournament.’
Poate was particularly angered by Cambridge’s first goal – as Pompey loanee Ryan Bird survived an offside appeal to fire the U’s into a lead they had barely merited, seven minutes before the break.
But the Borough man conceded it was their opponents’ second goal from man-of-the-match Ryan Donaldson, five minutes after the break which put the game beyond the underdogs.
He said: ‘It (Bird’s goal) was a sloppy goal and we got told it was offside.
‘But their first goal in the second half early on really killed the game
‘We gave the ball away on the halfway line and a ball over the top meant he (Donaldson) was in and he has put it away.’
Further goals from Donaldson and a Luke Berry penalty, gave the scoreline a flattering look.
But Poate, believes his side showed their ability in front of ‘fantastic’ support, and has called on his team-mates to reproduce their FA Trophy displays in the Skrill South as they looked to pull clear of a relegation battle.
He said: ‘We matched them for long periods, especially in the first half.
‘It’s just that little bit of quality in the final third that I think was the difference on the day.
‘But now we have to take the sort of form we have showed in the FA Trophy into the league and try to stay in the league.’
Poate added: ‘We would like to thank all of the fans as well – they have been fantastic.
‘Hopefully they enjoyed the day and the result didn’t hinder it too much.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN