Paul Dipre had only good things to say about Carshalton Athletic after his side’s last chance for silverware this season disappeared on Tuesday.
The Robins were beaten 1-0 by Blue Square South leaders Woking at Colston Avenue in the semi-final of the Surrey Senior Cup after a second-half penalty saw the favourites through.
With a number of players playing out of position though, Dipre was proud of the way his side acquitted themselves.
“I have nothing but praise for the way the boys performed,” he said.
“It is a great achievement to out-play the runaway Blue Square South leaders for long periods of the game.
“The boys have delivered another good cup run and they have done us all proud.”
After the club’s exploits in the FA Trophy came to an end last month, they now have just the league to concentrate on.
Last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Kingstonian, when Paul Vines missed a penalty, left them in 14th place, 14 points off the play-offs with 11 games to go.
On Tuesday, Dipre was forced to play midfielder Tom Davis at right back as Luke Nolan was out due to a virus and Michael Kamara was deployed at centre back, as Justyn Roberts was serving the second of his three match ban and on-loan Dawayne Campbell was ineligible. Dean McDonald, playing just behind the front two, also started his first game since Concord Rangers at home.
Carshalton began the game positively but it was Nick Hamann that made the first save on 10 minutes as a deep cross from the Woking right eluded Davis at the back post. Dale Binns hit a smart side-foot volley but The Robins keeper claimed it well at full stretch.
Laurent Hamici then forced the first save from Woking goalkeeper Andy Little two minutes later and Billy Crook forced Little into action twice in a minute, the second being a first time strike with the outside of his right foot from a Paul Vines cross which Little got down well to smother.
Adam Newton almost put the home side ahead on 32 minutes as he picked up a loose ball in The Robins box, cut inside the sliding tackle of Tanner and beat Hamann from 10 yards. However Kamara, who has made a habit of doing this throughout the season, cleared the ball off the line.
Luke Pigden then matched Kamara’s heroics on 39 minutes when he got a touch on the line to divert a Joe McNerney header away following a corner.
Ex-Fulham and Leicester City striker Elvis Hammond came on for Woking at the start of the second half, but Carshalton started brightly again and played some nice passes through midfield, but Vines and Hamici couldn’t quite shake their markers and conjure any chances.
The decisive decision came on 50 minutes when Hammond slipped a square ball into the run of Moses Ademola, who drove into the area with Tanner in close attention. The left back seemed to lean onto the attacker, who went down and gave referee Webb the opportunity to point to the spot.
Sole stepped up and just managed to beat Hamann’s dive to the keeper’s right.
Ray then blocked a Hammond shot from 15 yards as the striker tried to turn the Carshalton captain. The Robins found it hard to release themselves from the pressure, but the patched up defence held firm and started to put the home side on the back foot for the last 25 minutes.
Hamici latched onto a neat Pigden pass that split Newton and Mcnerney on 65 minutes, but Mike Cestor cleared the ball away for a corner which eventually found its way back to Hamici, but his shot zipped straight through into the arms of Little from the edge of the box.
Kennedy Adjei was replaced by Sonny Ayres for the last 10 minutes as Carshalton went 4-3-3 in search of an equaliser. Woking were now hoping to catch The Robins on the break, but the away side kept the ball well and worked some neat approach play, with Vines putting one header straight at Little on 83 minutes.
And, as the game went into stoppage time, a whipped cross from Tanner won The Robins a corner. Davis’s delivery created a melee around 10 yards from goal and Kamara stabbed in a shot that Little tipped onto his crossbar and out for another corner, which Vines almost connected with at the back post but to no avail.
Next up: Carshalton Athletic travel away to Lewes on Saturday 10th March before hosting AFC Hornchurch at Colston Avenue on Tuesday 13th March. The Robins then welcome Canvey Island on Saturday 17th March.
Carshalton Athletic: Hamann; Davis, Kamara, Ray (C), Tanner; Adjei (Ayers – 79), Crook, Pigden, McDonald; Vines, Hamici.
Unused subs: Badiali, Amodu, O’Toole, Bryan.