CARL Macauley described Witton Albion’s exit from the FA Trophy as a ‘kick in the teeth’ before insisting the pain was numbed by pride at his players’ performance against Leamington.

The National League North side celebrated a 2-1 victory after substitute Anthony Dwyer’s stunning goal – literally and metaphorically – in the third minute of added time.

Afterwards, the Northwich team’s manager took comfort from how the visitors had played.

He said: “I’m at a loss to explain how we’ve lost because we were so, so good.

“Where did it go wrong? We were guilty of missing too many chances. We know that.

“But the biggest thing for me was our display; we were in complete control of the game never looked in any danger.

“They never threatened us, and it’s a real kick in the teeth to go out like that.”

James Foley guided Will Jones’ perfectly-weighted pass into the net to put Witton in front inside 10 minutes.

A moment of controversy followed from their next attack when Leamington goalkeeper Tony Breeden was shown a yellow card by referee Greg Rollason as punishment for handling outside of his penalty area.

Foley had run clear onto Liam Goulding’s chipped pass, and the custodian stuck out an arm to redirect the ball after the midfielder attempted to knock it past him.

Northwich Guardian:

Leamington goalkeeper Tony Breeden handles outside of his penalty area after Witton Albion midfielder James Foley attempts to knock the ball past him during the first-half of Saturday's FA Trophy encounter. Picture: Karl Brooks Photography

Macauley said: “It’s a decision that really upset me.

“The referee asked to see me as we were walking off at half-time and he told me there were two defenders behind the goalkeeper when he made contact with the ball.

“If the keeper knew that, then why did he handle it?”

The home team levelled when Colby Bishop stroked a penalty past Greg Hall after River Humphreys had wrestled Jack Edwards to the floor.

Albion regrouped during the interval, and dominated the second-half.

To their irritation, Breeden produced his best to thwart substitute Rob Hopley and Tom Owens.

Foley also directed a header against the crossbar.

Macauley said: “It was fantastic to see us play like that.

“It’s important, and I stressed this in the dressing room after the game, that we hold our heads up.”