Alfreton boss Billy Heath believes his players can still become the first in the club’s history to reach the FA Cup third round.
The Derbyshire part-timers fought out a 0-0 home draw with League Two Walsall, with Heath arguing that his outfit were the better team against a side that ply their trade two divisions higher.
He went on to admit that a replay in the Midlands represents a tougher proposition, but feels that his “magnificent” side remain capable of progressing with Championship Southampton awaiting the victors at St Mary’s.
“It was a close game and both teams had chances, but I thought we edged it,” Heath said.
“We had a bit more goalmouth action and our two chances were the most clear-cut opportunities to score, so we are disappointed with that, but the players were magnificent and we really gave as good as we got.
“We’ve also got to remind ourselves that some of our players were at work today and some were stuck in traffic and nearly didn’t get here, so it’s fantastic what they have achieved tonight.
“Hopefully they will get more credit than we get in the league now, because we have some really good individuals with great character.
“They have shown that in this tie and we are still in it, which is the main thing. It will be even more difficult at their place but we won’t be going there to go out with a whimper and still think we can win the tie.”
Walsall boss Mat Sadler was subjected to chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” by unimpressed away fans, who have seen their team win just once in nine contests – against Isthmian League minnows Sheppey United in the previous round.
The Saddlers have also failed to net in three successive matches, but an under-pressure Sadler declared that he was pleased with the manner in which his team did not buckle in the face of repeated long throws into their box from home midfielder Adam Lund.
“You have to respect whatever the supporters are saying, but we have had a tough spell with injuries and I’m pleased with how incredibly hard the team we put out worked tonight,” Sadler insisted.
“We had some good moments and controlled long parts of the game, so there were plenty of positives but we didn’t quite have that bit at the end, which is not happening for us at the moment.
“It will come and sometimes you just need a goal to go off somebody’s backside, earlobe or whatever. But we also showed great resilience to deal with their long throw, which is a hell of a weapon.
“Fair play to them – they use it well and use it from everywhere, but we stood up to that and it was a very competitive cup tie.”