KENNY Jackett insisted he was proud of his players despite their 2-0 loss to Wigan in the semi-finals of the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday.
Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman scored goals either side of the break as the Lions' run in the competition came to an abrupt end at the national stadium.
Jackett's men rallied after half-time and, when McManaman added the Latics second, it was during their best spell of the afternoon.
"We had a 20-minute spell where we put pressure on them," Jackett said. "We needed something to fall for us – a rebound came off Mark Beevers and could have gone anywhere.
"Perhaps we could have had a penalty decision as well. We needed to get back into the game during that period. The first-half was tough for us but we defended sterlingly.
"When you're playing against a side from a higher division, you must make sure that you are always in the game, and we did that.
"Wigan scored a very good goal on the break which killed the game for us. But I'm very proud of my players and of their efforts to get this far in the competition."
Jackett felt Latics striker Arouna Kone was the difference between the two sides: "He was coming off our two centre-halves and bringing their midfield into play. We needed to stop him linking things.
"We know he's a threat over the top but, if you look at the first goal, he came short, turned Beevers, flicked it over his head and produced an excellent ball, with great weight.
"He was excellent. The fact that he repeatedly linked the play made it very difficult for us. You have to hang in there during periods like that and the fact it was only 1-0 was a positive for us.
"We have some big league games coming up so we have to move on quickly."