Belper Town boss Grant Black said he was proud of his players as they made it 15 games unbeaten by booking a place in the FA Cup third qualifying round with an extra-time 1-0 win at Witton Albion on Tuesday night.
Belper had been held 0-0 at home in Saturday’s first game against their higher division opponents and were pushed all the way at Witton before Phil Watt’s goal just before the interval in extra-time saw them earn a superb victory.
“It was something special to win this and I am so proud of them,” said Black.
“It took extra time but we got there in the end. It was a tough 120 minutes and I went through every emotion.
“That is now 15 games unbeaten and we will just keep taking it one game at a time. We will just make sure the lads don’t get carried away or become over-confident.
“We know why we are doing well, so we just have to keep doing it.
“We need to keep working hard and being humble which they will as they are an honest bunch of lads.”
He added: “We should have had it won in the 90 minutes really as we created three or four really good chances but didn’t take them.
“They threw everything at us near the end and created some good chances of their own, but we stood tall and saw it out.”
There was some confusion over whether the goal would be credited to Watt or go down as an own goal, but Black said: “I wouldn’t take it away from Wattsy.
“It was a powerful header which may have hit a lad on the line but it was on target.
“It was a good goal to win it and we will now try to make it 16 unbeaten on Saturday.”
The win booked a third qualifying round tie at Rushall Olympic a week on Saturday where victory would equal their best ever FA Cup run.
But before then Belper face two important league games against sides above them with a home game with Stocksbridge Park Steels followed by a trip to Spalding United on Tuesday.
But games coming thick and fast is not a worry for Black, who said: “The FA Cup is great for non-league clubs for all sorts of reasons.
“Even though it is our second priority behind the league, we feel we have a strong enough squad to have a good cup run as well as remaining competitive in the league.
“There were some tired bodies out there in the end at Witton and they now need to to rest up and look after themselves.
“But we do have strength in depth and if we need to freshen things up on Saturday we will do.”
He added: “I could not be prouder of this group of men, who have acquitted themselves so well. They are an absolute pleasure to work with.
“I think anyone could manage them as they make it easy for us. They take everything on board we tell them, work hard and have great technical ability too.
“They have represented the club unbelievably tonight as they have all season and we are now ready for the next step.”
Belper supporters also came in for praise for their part in the win at Witton, Black saying: “A big shout out to our fans tonight who were unbelievable.
“There must have been 70 or more there tonight who made the two and a half hour trip and never stopped.
“They got involved in the celebrations with the lads after the game which is what we want.
“We want to build a spirit between fans and players. I hope they enjoyed their night.”