Helston Athletic under-18s co-manager Martyn Daughtery had high praise for his side, despite seeing their FA Youth Cup run come to an end at the hands of Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night.

The Blues, making their debut appearance in the first round proper of the competition, were beaten 5-0 by their higher-division opponents, whose first team play in the English Football League Two.

Destiny Oladipo settled the hosts with an early goal before doubling the lead midway through the half.

Daniel Bradshaw all but sealed the tie in the final moments of the first half, with Dylan Morgan and Oladipo adding gloss to the score late on.

Daughtery, who manages the Blues alongside Stu Giles, said: “Disappointed with the result obviously but I would have been a lot happier if we’d kept it to three or four-nil. I thought 5-0 was a little bit flattering and almost as if we got a proper beating and I don’t think we did really. We gave everything we could but they were just the better team, full stop.

"We’ll take that on the chin, but the biggest blow for me from the whole game was the third goal just before half-time. I felt we were finding our feet inside the game a little bit and to get that sucker punch just before half time sort of took the wind out of our sails, but, effort-wise, could not knock the boys, super proud.”

READ MORE: Blues' dream FA Youth Cup run comes to an end at Forest Green Rovers

The match was the Blues' first-ever appearance in the first round proper of the competition, a record that was frequently mentioned in the build-up to the tie.

The lack of experience at this stage and against a different level of opposition saw their slow start punished with a goal inside four minutes, forcing the Blues to try and play catch-up for the remainder of the tie.

While the early goal against was a source of frustration, Daughtery admitted that the quality throughout the Rovers side was a step into the unknown for his side.

“It’s something that we talked about prior to the game, cutting out those crosses early on and it cost us," he said. "We’ll take it on the chin and hopefully we’ll find a bit of luck or something will go our way but it just wasn’t our night tonight.

"Full credit to them, they’re an excellent team, but I’m just proud of the boys’ effort, I thought the effort throughout was phenomenal. Lewis Tonkin did enough running for two players really and Mawgan Kewn [also had a great game], all the players put in a proper shift, they are absolutely shattered but a big learning curve for them.

"I’d love to be playing that sort of level every week with the same boys because I think we would definitely rise our game to come and meet that, but when you’re not playing that every week it’s difficult to match them but all over the park they were better and we just gave it our best shot.”

Defeat at The New Lawn spelled the end of Helston's history-making run to the national first round proper, becoming the first Cornish side to compete at the stage of the competition.

The Blues, who became the first Cornish club to even participate in the tournament for 60 years when they made their debut in 2018, had to navigate four qualifying rounds to set up their trip to the EFL club.

Their journey began with a walkover against Western League Premier Division club Longwell Green Sports, followed by a nailbiting penalty-shootout win at Longwell's divisional rivals Street after a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.

A resounding 5-0 win at Brislington, again of the Western League Premier, followed before an even more resounding 8-2 win over Wessex League Premier Division club Brockenhurst in their first ever home tie in the previous round just over two weeks ago.

READ MORE: Young Blues score eight to reach first round proper of FA Youth Cup for first time ever

The unprecedented run to the first round proper has captured the imagination of the players, club and even the county, and Daughtery is hoping that the joy of this year's campaign will act as motivation for the players to try and repeat the feat next season.

He said: “It’s something the boys have absolutely loved this year and a lot of the young lads and all of our bench were under-17s and under-16s and they can’t wait for next year.

"Unfortunately for the older boys, they miss out next year but we build for next year and they can’t wait to start that journey.

"We’ve got lots to look forward to this year, we won the treble last year and we were invincible. We really want to hold on to that and go out and do exactly the same again this year, so lots to play for.

"Spirits are high but they know when they are defeated and they took it well. They understood that there are margins between us and I think they can take away that the gulf isn’t that much, it’s just bringing them all together on the day.”

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The Helston managerial duo of Martyn Daughtery (left) and Stu Giles

Daughtery also thanked those who lent their support during this year's run, with the club receiving messages of support from various managers and clubs from in and out of Cornwall – including that of beaten third qualifying round side Brockenhurst, who wished the young Blues good luck prior to Tuesday night's tie.

Daughtery said: “I think the support we’ve had throughout the county has been phenomenal, and outside the county, we’ve had lots of clubs contacting us and wishing us the best. Exeter City have been fantastic for their help, but it’s been a brilliant journey, we’ll learn loads from it and just look forward to the next run now.”

With the excitement of this year's cup run now coming to an end, Daughtery is now looking to the future, and hopes that his side's achievement can act as a blueprint for youth football in Cornwall.

He said: “There are plenty of other players in our county that are really good footballers and I hope that other people want a piece of this and there’ll be more than just Helston doing it, there’ll be other clubs doing it and all our youths start raising the profile of football in our county because it’s certainly good enough and the players down our way certainly deserve it.

"I’d like to think that others will learn from what we do and want a piece of it and build a big journey for lots of other clubs.

“That’s why we go to put these boys in the shop window and play at the highest level they can. It’s not to win stuff, it’s to give these boys the best opportunities, and we think we’ve done that so far this season and long may it continue.”

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