Sheppey United boss Ernie Batten was proud of his side despite their 4-1 FA Cup first-round exit at the hands of League Two Walsall.
The eighth-tier side were the lowest-ranked club in the first-round proper of the longest-running cup competition in the world.
Batten’s Ites were competing in the first round for the first time in their history.
And hopes of a huge cup upset were high after James Bessey-Saldanha’s stunning first-half strike at a capacity-packed Holm Park.
Douglas James-Taylor levelled in the first-half before Tony Knowles, Ross Tierney and Isaac Hutchinson did the damage in the second period.
After reaching this stage for the first time in 105 attempts, Batten said: “I’m extremely proud of this group of players.
“I’ve lived on the island most of my life and it’s been a wonderful moment for myself.
“They’ve achieved something this club hasn’t done in its 130-year existence.
“I couldn’t be happier for them. I’ve said to them that they’ve got to use this for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got all to play for in the league and it puts you in a good mood.
“I’m really pleased for James because he found a really good goal for us to give us a great start.
“I think this experience is massive for us, absolutely massive. We’re so pleased to get this far and hopefully it’s a catalyst for the football club.
“The exposure we’ve had has really highlighted us as a football club that’s going places.”
Tree surgeon goalkeeper Aiden Prall, the penalty hero against Billericay, produced a player-of-the-match performance with 12 saves – just hours after cutting logs.
But a dream second-round berth was just a step too far for the Isthmian League South East outfit.
Walsall boss Mat Sadler was full of plaudits for the non-league side after their big night out in front of the TV cameras.
“It was a really professional performance,” admitted Sadler.
“We knew it was going to be a tough night, everyone was charged up for the game and rightly so because they’ve done so well to get this far.
“Credit to them to get to the first round. When they scored you think ‘Jesus Christ’.
“It was a really good performance for us. I’m delighted in a way that they got their goal and can go away happy because they deserve it.
“Fair play to them because it was a great goal, I thought it was brilliant.
“I was desperate to win this game for a number of different reasons.
“For us we’re building as a football club and a group at the moment. We’ve got a very young squad out there and I think at times that enthusiasm got us through.
“I’m pleased for Ross because he’s a lad who wears his heart on his sleeve and works hard for the team. He does a lot of unsung stuff for the team and for him to get on the scoresheet. I’m really pleased for him.
“Their keeper rightfully got the man-of-the-match award because I thought he had a fantastic game.”