IAN Holloway had mixed feelings after a much-changed Millwall side suffered a 2-0 Capital One Cup defeat at the hands of Southampton on Tuesday night.
The Lions boss made nine changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Rotherham on Saturday, handing starts to a mixture of youngsters, squad players and those in need of fitness after injury spells.
After an even first half, the Saints' Premier League class told in the second, with goals from Jack Cork and Graziano Pelle giving the visitors a comfortable margin of victory.
"To be honest with you I feel absolutely gutted," said Holloway after the game.
"I really enjoyed the first half, I really did. When I saw their team sheet, I thought ‘oh my god, what have I done’.
"I knew making changes was the right thing to do because our lads looked tired on Saturday – the attacking element of the team looked a bit flat. So I wanted to give this team a chance.
"I needed to give John Marquis a chance because he’s a big fella who can deal with a ball from back to front, but I knew I was taking a risk.
"We had one day to prepare them and we had to play a different way. We played a midfield diamond and to ask a new team, which had just come together, to do that was a risk.
"I'm absolutely delighted with the way they did it and I feel bitterly disappointed that the free header we had in the first half went out for a throw in and their free header went straight in.
"That's the difference. We didn’t do our job at a corner. You can’t let someone run free and head it from that distance. I'm gutted about that.
"But they're a Premier League side, they've sold all sorts of players and when I saw they were playing their main team I thought the score could've been anything.
"But it didn't feel like that – in fact it felt great at half time. Now I feel a little bit disappointed because we've lost again and the bubble’s burst a little bit – we've got to win on Saturday now.
"Southampton's people congratulated us for how we played, how we rotated and how we moved the ball."