Proud O’Leary full of praise for Potters Bar players despite FA Cup exit
PUBLISHED: 16:29 23 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:29 23 October 2019
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Lee O’Leary was struggling to find the right words to say about his players after Potters Bar Town exited the FA Cup at Barnet but he was clear about one of them – pride.
The Scholars' 3-1 defeat in the fourth qualifying round replay at The Hive on Tuesday night brought to an end a wonderful adventure in this year's competition.
It will forever be part of club folklore, especially Saturday's 101st-minute equaliser, but Ben Ward-Cochrane's first-half strike that put them ahead against their National League hosts won't be far behind.
And even though Barnet's superiority finally told, the manager was delighted and heartbroken for his boys in equal measures.
"We've learned so much from these two games," he said. "We pushed Barnet all the way and only lost by two goals over 180 minutes.
"I can't put into words how proud I am of the chaps.
"I'm proud of every single one of them for what they have created. We had 700 fans behind the goal cheering them and the boys are the ones who have created that.
"They can come away with their heads held high and not be too disappointed."
The match itself was similar in many ways to the first meeting between the sides at the weekend.
This time though two wonderful moments of quality broke Bar's brave resistance before a Jack Taylor penalty added some gloss to the score for the home side.
O'Leary said: "For me it wasn't about us. Even at our best it would have been a struggle. Barnet turned up tonight and hit a different gear. They were excellent.
"They were sharper, quicker, stronger, fitter and they shut us down.
"I felt sorry for the chaps. It was tough.
"We've got plenty of character and that's the minimum we get out of the boys week in week out.
"Unfortunately we just fell short and that was through no fault of our own. It was just the opposition were better."
However, the squad can't afford to bask in the warm glow of nostalgia and memory for too long as they began an assault on another trip to Wembley, this time in the FA Trophy, when they go to Heybridge Swifts on Saturday.
O'Leary now knows his job is to get his squad focused on that and the upcoming return to Isthmian League Premier Division action.
He said: "Even though they are the league below Heybridge will be a tough game. They are one of the better teams at that level and we've got to dust ourselves down really quickly because Saturday is another big test.
"We can't have a hangover from this competition. We're out and we've got to move on and look forward to the rest of the year.
"This isn't the end of our season. They've done themselves proud, they've done their team-mates proud and they've done the club proud.
"But as management we have to get the boys mentally right to look forward and not back at what we've done here.
"It's about the league and FA Trophy now."
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