Chester FC may be in the hat for tomorrow's FA Trophy second-round draw but Jon McCarthy conceded there were scant positives to take from their stalemate at lower-league Witton Albion.
The Blues hung on for a 1-1 draw in yesterday's first-round clash at Wincham Park after a first-half header from the recalled Jordan Chappell was cancelled out after the restart by Brad Bauress.
Buoyed by the equaliser the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South outfit, managed by former Chester assistant boss Carl Macauley, pushed for a winner.
And they would have snatched one at the death had Alex Lynch not saved from Bauress.
The Cheshire neighbours will go again in a Lookers Vauxhall Stadium replay on Tuesday.
And Blues boss McCarthy said: "There are not many positives from us. Alex Lynch was excellent and we got Matty Waters on the pitch but actually there's not a lot.
"I can't gloss over it so it's probably best I give a lot of credit to Carl Macauley and his players because I thought they were excellent.
"I had a lot of respect for them before the game and our players should have a lot more afterwards.
"I've got to say a big thank you to our fans who made the journey in numbers. We appreciate that and we're disappointed we didn't put on a performance.
"But I'll re-emphasise that this group of lads have been doing it all season for us.
"Our fans and I have seen our standards and we know we fell below them today.
"But we have stayed in this competition and we'll relish the opportunity to put things right in the replay."
An afternoon to forget for Chester was compounded when Kane Richards was sent off late on.
The striker was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Tom Owens in injury-time.
And McCarthy, whose Vanarama National League side have now lost just two of their last 18 games in all competitions, said: "Early on in the move he was looking to go through and win it.
"It's a coming together at the end. I don't know how much it is Kane kicking out or whether he has overran the ball and he's poking the foot out. It's a really tight one.
"There's a lot of noise and we ended up losing the player for a game, which is a blow for me."