OUTGOING Holland FC boss Rob Batten admitted being hugely proud of the club's rapid progress - although "gutted" they could not end his reign with some cup silverware.

Batten took charge for the last time as his side met Harleston Town in the First Division Knockout Cup final at Woodbridge Town, on Friday.

Things did not go to plan, with the Norfolk side running out comfortable 6-0 winners.

However, Batten insisted he was proud of his players for reaching the final and tipped the club's young players to come back stronger.

"We beat some very good sides along the way and this is only the beginning for our young team," he told the Gazette.

"They're very talented and this is the start for them.

"I'm sure they'll go on to achieve lots in their careers.

"Of course, it's difficult to be positive after a heavy defeat but, for me, the bigger picture is still bright.

"We've got a lot of prospects coming through and that's the important thing.

"They're absolutely brilliant players and, maybe, there's a chance they'll come back stronger for this experience.

"A few of them were upset in the changing room afterwards so they might not think that right now but what they've got to remember is what they've achieved at such a young age.

"I couldn't be any prouder and it's been an honour to manage them."

Batten is now handing over the reins to former Haringey Borough manager Paul Phelan, who watched on from the sidelines on Friday night.

With the league season now over, the latter now has a clear summer and pre-season to fine-tune preparations for the next Thurlow Nunn League campaign.

"Paul is taking over and he's a top bloke," said Batten.

"Hopefully he can take the club to the next level.

"I've been a bit tired mentally for a while and that's the only reason I'm stepping down.

"I love the club and still want to be about and around, but I just need a break.

"I've been part of the management team for seven years and while it's been hard work, we've come a long way. I'm so proud of that.

"When I first turned up only a handful of players at training.

"Since then we've built and built, got promoted and now we're holding our own at step six level - not to mention our new ground.

"It's important to know your limitations and also when it's time to go.

"Now we've got a manager who's been at the next level and can hopefully take our club even higher up the pyramid.

"He's going to need all the support he can get and he's certainly got mine.

"I've told him I'll still be around or on the other end of the phone."

Batten's Holland teams won 141 of his 265 games in charge, drawing 44 and losing 80.

He added: "I'd like to thank (chairman) Mark Sorrell for his support and Shaun Gascoyne, Glenn Cowen, Paul Abbott, Ray Turner and Calvin Allen (all part of the club's management team down the years) for being rocks in difficult times, getting this club to were it is now."