Chris Hughton said there was no shame in Birmingham City's FA Cup exit at the hands of Chelsea on Tuesday night.
Blues went out in the fifth-round replay to two second-half goals at St Andrew’s.
Prior to Chelsea breaking the deadlock, Blues were giving as good as they got, and were arguably the better side in the first period.
“When you consider the amount of games we’ve had, the quality we’re up against, we just needed to stay in the game longer in the second-half,” said Blues boss Hughton.
“And then you hope to get to the stage where they become a little bit anxious.
“And what you’re able to do then is finish strong, which we did. “We had the opportunity with Jordon Mutch late on. But if that’s at 1-0, you are right back in it.
“But we were always chasing the game then. I thought we were more than a match for the them in an excellent first-half,” Hughton continued.
“They were always going to have more possession than us, because of the quality they have got.
“All you can do is have a good shape about you, restrict them to minimal chances – and I can’t remember them having any really good ones in the first 45 minutes.
“That gave us great hope, but we just couldn’t remain that way for a long enough period.”
“The effort they gave, I couldn’t fault it,” said Hughton, who was missing nine players last night.
“Three lads we have on loan were ineligible, Stephen Carr, Stevie Caldwell, Keith Fahey and David Murphy were all injured.
“Chelsea can leave the players they left out of the team and still field a real quality eleven that irrespective of beating a Championship team, could be beating a Premier League team.
“I think we have got far more to be proud of than not be.
“Now it gives us an opportunity to try and get back on track with this league form.
“I am proud what this group of players have done in the cups this season, but now it’s time to concentrate on the league.
“We have enjoyed all the cup campaigns.
“And there is no shame to be losing against a Champions League team like Chelsea,” he added.