Alex Pike surveyed the Skrill South derby wreckage and admitted: I couldn’t ask any more from my players.
The Gosport Borough boss looked on in disbelief as Brett Poate was given his marching orders in the first half of the clash with the Hawks at Westleigh Park.
Trailing 1-0 at the time, the red card gave the visitors little hope of earning a return from the game.
And so it proved, as two second-half strikes – one deep into stoppage-time – added the gloss to the Hawks’ derby win.
The Borough boss acknowledged the work his opposite number Lee Bradbury has done at Westleigh Park.
But paid tribute to the brave effort turned in by his own troops on a difficult afternoon.
‘What I saw out there was the best Hawks team for many a year,’ said Pike.
‘They were strong physically, well organised and technically very able.
‘All credit to us, though. In the second half, with only 10 men, I thought we passed the ball better.
‘My players gave it their all and that is all you can ever ask from them.
‘They were left with a massive hill to climb but kept plugging away and believing they could get something from the game.
‘In the end, though, the Hawks exploited the extra space and that is what good sides do.’
Pike was angered by the decision to dismiss Poate for a second-bookable offence.
He had seen Hawks forward Scott Jones escape punishment for a late challenge minutes earlier – and confronted Poole-based referee Chris Powell at half-time.
The Borough boss added: ‘I don’t want to talk about the referee but I have known him for years and my ideas on him after this game have not changed.’