PAUL Bowyer believes 1874 Northwich are still in the FA Cup on merit after watching his team see off North Ferriby United on Sunday.

He told the Guardian that their approach, and speed on the counter-attack, made him confident they could do damage to higher-ranked opponents.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said afterwards.

“We deserved this victory in every way; the lads’ effort and commitment, and the way they set about our opponents, was exactly what we’d planned to do.

“It’s true that we perhaps weren’t at our fluid best, and perhaps the occasion contributed to that.

“But it was great to get through on our own patch so our supporters could enjoy it like they did.”

1874 are one of only two teams from the North West Counties League who will contest the third qualifying round later this month.

They remain unbeaten in all competitions this season, and eliminated the former FA Trophy winners thanks to substitute Kyle Dixon’s own-goal after the interval.

The hosts protected their narrow advantage in relative comfort for the game’s remainder.

Bowyer added: “We had to dig in, and there will be lots of games this season when that will be necessary.

“To have any chance we had to work hard and run further than they did.

“If North Ferriby were going to knock us out, then they had to earn it.

“It would feel unfair to single out individuals because so many of them had a fantastic game, but our back four in particular were phenomenal.

“They dealt with everything, even when they went more direct after putting their big centre-half up front.

“That was a compliment to us; if a side from three levels above do something like that with 20 minutes left, we must be doing something right!”

Bowyer, who manages the team along with Wayne Goodison, has been with 1874 Northwich since the club’s formation in 2012 after signing as a player.

The significance of their achievement is not lost on him.

He added: “There aren’t many players in our team that will have reached this stage of the FA Cup.

“Our physio, Phil Lea, told them in the dressing room afterwards that they should cherish days like this one, and he’s right.

“It’s fantastic for a club from our level to get this far – and I think the lads could see how much it meant by the reaction of the fans after the final whistle.

“I played once in the third qualifying round, and now I can say I’ve matched it as a manager.

“That’s the beauty of this competition I guess; it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been an amateur or a professional – there is an opportunity to create those memories.”