Lee Sanders admits he couldn’t fault the heart and desire of his Durham Women players as they fell to a cruel defeat at Sheffield United.
Despite dictating the play for the majority of the game, the Wildcats left the Proact Stadium with nothing after Aimee Palmer’s long-range strike settled the clash.
But Sanders had no complaints over the endeavour displayed by his squad in what was always set to be a tricky test.
“I really did think the players were excellent today,” he admitted.
“When you consider what the result was during the week in the cup, to come here and get the reaction that we got from them was unbelievable.
“We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve got into Sheffield’s final third, how many corners we’ve won – whether you call it the rub of the green or Sheffield just getting their bodies in the way, it hasn’t fallen for us.
“Credit to Sheffield, but with the opportunities we had we should have done better in that department.
“But in terms of work rate, heart and desire, the players have worked ever so hard.
“The back four were outstanding today. They were exhausted at the end because they’d put that much into it, as had everyone.
“But that’s football. They’ve hit a worldie, and that’s what it’s taken.
“We’re down, and rightly so when you go out there and work that hard only to be sucker-punched, but we’ll pick ourselves up and have a good week in training.”
Fine margins ultimately cost the Wildcats, with missed chances proving costly while a potential penalty was waved away in the first half.
“We’ve had a few opportunities where we’ve shot straight at the ‘keeper,” said Sanders.
“We’ll have to watch it back, but I think we should have had a penalty in the first half. That possibly changes how the game goes completely.
“I’ll be really disappointed if it is a penalty because those are big decisions in the league which you really need to go in your favour.”
Durham have an opportunity to bounce back next week at Coventry United – with Sanders sure the league is far from settled.
“We just have to pick ourselves up and have a good week,” he added.
“We’ll be looking ahead to Coventry and hopefully we can go there and get back at it and get some points in the league.
“It’s a short league so you haven’t got too many points to lose.
“But it’s not over. It’s November, Sheffield have got to go to London City and play Villa again. We’ve got to play Villa and Sheffield at home, so the league isn’t over with by a long way.”
The Wildcats were roared on by a vocal travelling support in Chesterfield, and Sanders was keen to thank those who came to back the club.
“They’re absolutely fantastic.
“Our fans have been amazing at home all season and now to have real numbers coming to back us at away games is great.”