Grant McCann was proud of his team’s valiant performance in the enthralling 3-2 FA Cup third-round defeat to Premier League side Everton.
Andros Townsend’s swerving 25-yarder nine minutes into extra-time settled an absorbing affair in front of the BBC One cameras and a season-high crowd of 16,282 at the MKM Stadium.
A pulsating, topsy-turvy tie saw the Tigers lead after 43 seconds through Tyler Smith’s header and fight back from 2-1 down to level courtesy of Ryan Longman’s glorious curler.
Townsend’s strike ended our FA Cup interest, although it still required an exceptional save from Asmir Begovic to thwart Tom Eaves to guarantee Rafael Benitez’s Toffees’ place in round four.
“I’m disappointed to lose the game but in terms of the performance, I was really pleased,” said McCann.
“We’ve gone toe-to-toe with a Premier League team. We pushed right to the end. I thought we had the equaliser at the end with Tom's shot but it was a tremendous save from Begovic.
“All in all, I was pleased with the lads and very proud of their performance.
“I said to them in the changing room, ‘You’ve got to be proud of yourself today because you’ve every bit matched Everton.’ Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side of the result.
McCann continued: “I went into this game saying firstly we had to match their intensity, their energy, their aggression. We did that – and this group always does that.
“It was nice to score so early in the game – and nice for Tyler to score his first goal for the club as well because I think he’s deserved that with his chances and the movement he’s had when he’s played.
“We had to come back when they went 2-1 – a great finish from Ryan – and they showed their quality with Townsend’s goal.
“Overall, I was really, really pleased and proud of the boys.”