Rotherham United boss Paul Warne labelled Wigan Athletic ‘an excellent side’ after seeing the Millers lose to a late James Vaughan strike at the DW Stadium.
Warne, an ex-Latics striker from the Sprinfield Park days, admitted his team were second best during the opening 45 minutes.
But he felt Vaughan’s late winner - a clinical rebound after Callum McManaman’s shot was parried - was a kick in the guts after a backs-to-the-wall display.
“Against an excellent Wigan side, who played Stoke off the park last week, I’m proud of the effort and how we went toe to toe with them,” said Warne.
“But at the same time I’m very disappointed to come away with nothing.
“We looked a little bit jaded in the first half, it took us a bit of time to get going.
“I’d sort of try and take that first half out of my memory - we were pleased to get them in at 0-0.
“Wigan were comfortably the better team up to that point, without out goalkeeper making any real saves that I can remember.
“At half-time we decided to push our defenders a lot higher up the pitch to force our midfielders to push a lot higher up the pitch, and give our strikers some support.
“I’m obviously biased, but I’m also honest, and I thought we were the better side in the second half.
“We were pushing for the goal, we had plenty of set-pieces, they had block after block, and it just wouldn’t drop for us.”
Warne felt particular frustration at the manner of the only goal, which owed everything to Vaughan’s predatory instincts which were sharper than any other player on the pitch.
“It was a very frustrating goal to concede,” Warne added.
“We’re not happy with the way their winger comes inside and gets his shot off.
“People don’t make mistakes on purpose, but I just reiterated to the lads after the game that we need to be the very best we can be.
“Today was a big opportunity missed for us.
“We were in the game definitely, and if we’d have got one goal we’d have gone on to get two.
“They’re a great bunch of lads who have physically given me everything, but we’ve come away with nothing - and that is a difficult pill to swallow.”