A naturally disappointed Rory McArdle acknowledged he was 'gutted' after Saturday's Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final defeat to Millwall - but he still feels City deserved credit for making it to Wembley.
After a keenly-contested encounter with Millwall, City lost out on a place in next season's Championship thanks to a single late goal from Lions striker Steve Morison.
"Conceding a goal that late on left ourselves with very little time to get back into the game," said McArdle.
"Gregory got a little nick on the cross and then it fell to Morison and that kind of luck didn't really go for us.
"We had some good chances during the match and, even at 1-0, a few balls went into the box that might have fallen to someone on another day.
"Our set-pieces were also good but we just needed that bit more fortune and quality in the final third, which let us down a bit.
"But the lads deserve a lot of credit for keeping going because, when you concede that late on, it would perhaps be easier to think that's us done."
McArdle added: "It's still been a massive achievement to get here. It would have been great to go one step further but, if you look at the changes made at the start of the season in the ownership, management and playing staff, it was always going to be a hard start for us.
"The gaffer (Stuart McCall) had to build a new squad but we're still disappointed not to finish the job off. He didn't say too many words and I don't think it would have really helped anybody anyway.
"He'll probably let the dust settle first before we talk about the match. Losing was as tough as it comes really and we're all gutted."