Stephen Baxter admitted he would have settled for a 1-0 defeat in Tuesday’s Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final, first leg clash with Cork City.
The Crues were denied a valiant away draw with Danny Morrissey’s 89th-minute winner.
The narrow defeat does keep alive next week’s return leg at Seaview, however – just what Baxter would have been aiming for.
With six players out through suspension and against a side that scored six times against Cliftonville over two games, the holders will look to overturn the deficit in North Belfast.
“Given how well we played, it might seem like we are disappointed but it is a pleasing result in the end,” Baxter said.
“We contained them and were still able to attack. Coming down here I would have taken a 1-0 defeat. We had six suspensions and one or two lads who had to come into the team. They did an exceptional job.
“Some of those lads haven’t played much football this year but I was very pleased with how they played. David McMaster was denied by a great save from their keeper (Mark McNulty) and we had some decent half chances too.”
The one disappointment for the Crues boss was the manner in which the goal was conceded.
“We went asleep from a cross with just two more minutes of the game to close out,” he said.
“You expect Cork to be pushing at us but it was just a pity we couldn’t hold on.
“The tie is very much alive. Having had a look at Cork, they are a good side and pass it well but we have home advantage last week and it will be up to us to take the game to them.”