Grove 16 manager Matt Wade said he was proud of his team, despite a heavy loss in the final of the Notts Sunday Junior Cup.
The Newark Alliance side went down 5-1 to Nottinghamshire Combination League Division Two ABP, whose squad featured several players from step-five Saturday football.
Grove 16, who were level at half-time, had played only away from home en-route to the final, including beating last year’s losing finalists The Crown.
“I am massively proud of the lads, We went into the match as underdogs but kept it competitive for a long time,” said Wade.
“After the game I told them we were beaten by the better team. ABP kept us restricted.
“You have to look at our run and the way we beat teams from some difficult places in and around Nottingham to get through to the final.”
Despite making a positive start, Grove went behind after 20 minutes as a low drive flew into the corner.
The Newark side were incensed when a long ball over the top saw Wayne Ord challenge for a loose ball with the keeper. As the ball bounced over his head, the keeper appeared to foul Ord.
'Playing at around nine out of ten just to compete with them'
Wade said a red card could have been given, but the referee waved away Grove’s appeals.
They deservedly levelled, however, shortly before half-time when Rhys Stanley, played through on goal, fired in, despite the keeper getting a hand to his shot.
Lewis Chambers had an effort blocked and Stanley could not direct the loose ball goalwards as the sides were level at the break.
ABP upped the pace in the second-half and, although Grove battled hard, the Nottingham side scored four unanswered goals to lift the cup.
Wade said the match was close and Grove did well to frustrate their opponents in the early stages.
“We were playing at around nine out of ten just to compete with them for 60 minutes,” he said.
“They had a few step-five footballers who get paid on Saturday.
“In the first-half they were not at their best and we were playing close to our full potential.
“To get level with them was an achievement, but for a while our strikers were feeding off scraps going forward.”