GORDON Bartlett saluted his Wealdstone side after their 3-2 FA Cup first round defeat to Rotherham United on Sunday.
The Stones boss saw his side battle back from a 2-0 down at half-time to give the Millers a cup scare with two wonder goals from Ryan Ashe sending the 1,638 strong home crowd wild.
They went behind on 33 minutes when Adam Le Fondre chased down a Sean Thomas clearance which rebounded in before Kevin Ellison fired in from 20 yards out.
Ashe made it 2-1 before Drewe Broughton headed in for 3-1 with eight minutes to go before Ashe completed his brace with a minute to go.
It was the first time since 1986 that the Ryman Premier Division side had reached the first round proper of the cup and Bartlett felt his side more than matched their League Two opponents.
Bartlett said: “I thought we dealt with their aerial ability which we knew would be a problem. And yet a bit of a freak goal the first one.
“Maybe Sean should of hit it first time but he has been outstanding this year and it happens in football. It is the way you respond and I felt we didn't react to it positively.
“We got our heads down because we probably didnt feel that was justice. To give the second one away was really difficult. You could tell with the body language of the boys.
“We said about 'third goal syndrome'. Whoever scores the third goal would really influence the game and fortunately we did.
“The second half performance was outstanding and I could not of asked for any more. To come back from 2-0 down and have a lot of opportunities and we could of gone on and got back into the game and I think they were panicking.”
Wealdstone sit fourth in the Ryman Premier table and this defeat was their first in 17 games.
Bartlett added: “It was a nearly today. We have done very well this year but what we musn't do is look back on this and say it was the end of our season.
“We have had a great run but we have to build on it and make sure we are successful when it comes to April not early November.
“I knew at start of season we had a good group of players. I really believe in the group we have at the moment. We have fantastic spirit.
“They are young and a have a lot of enthusiasm. There has been a lot of excitement this week.
“Rotherham at 2-0 I think went in at half-time and thought the game was won. But nobody can think that against us. It was near but wasn't to be.”