Lee Bradbury felt the Hawks could hold their heads up high despite exiting the FA Cup in a 1-0 defeat at Cheltenham Town.
A goal in the opening minutes of the second half proved decisive as the Robins sealed a visit to Hartlepool United in the first round proper.
‘Our application was fantastic again,’ said Hawks boss Bradbury.
‘All the players worked hard for each other and made it difficult for Cheltenham.
‘They can be proud of the effort they have put in over the two games.
‘Hopefully we can use our two performances against the National League side as a springboard to climbing the league.
‘Ryan Young was outstanding and kept us in it with three or four fantastic saves.
‘He was switched on and gave us a chance right to the very end.
‘Everyone worked hard and we must produce the same mindset in our league matches.
‘The players have set the standard and I won’t accept anything less.’
The Hawks made one enforced change with Harry Medway replacing teenage Pompey loanee Calvin Davies – who returned to the Blues ahead of tonight’s FA Youth Cup trip to Plymouth Argyle.
With fine rain falling, the visitors were put under the cosh in the opening 15 minutes.
It was constant pressure and the Hawks had goalkeeper Ryan Young to thank for keeping them on terms.
On 11 minutes, he produced a superb reaction save from Kyle Storer to prevent the Robins taking the lead.
With the Hawks struggling to gain any forward momentum the hosts continued to apply the pressure.
It was largely one-way traffic and Young produced another excellent one-handed save from Jack Barthram to turn another shot over the top.
The Hawks almost hit Cheltenham with a sucker punch on the stroke of half-time, though, when Ben Swallow saw his shot saved on the line by home stopper Dillon Phillips.
The visitors were caught napping at the start of the second half, though, as the Robins broke the deadlock in the 47th minute.
Danny Wright got in a shot from just inside the area which bounced back off the post and rebounded into the net off the unfortunate Young.
The visitors reacted well after the setback with Shamir Mullings almost putting his fellow substitute James Hayter through but the striker slipped at the crucial moment.
Matt Paterson then wasted a great chance to equalise in the 68th minute when he went one-on-one with the goalkeeper only to send his shot wide of the target.
On 76 minutes, Dan Strugnall produced a magnificent last-ditch clearance to keep the Hawks in the game.
Young also conjured further heroics with three more outstanding saves as the Robins pushed to end the Hawks’ resistance.
In the final minutes of an entertaining cup tie, Mullings had his effort from a corner cleared off the line as the Hawks exited the competition with their heads held high.
Hawks: Young, Medway, Strugnell, Dutton, Blanchett, Stock, Clifton, Donnelly, Swallow, Azeez, Paterson. Subs: Morgan, Searle C, Monthe, Cummings, Mullings, Hayter, Thomson
CHELTENHAM TOWN: Phillips, Barthram, Dickie, Downes, Parslow, McLennan, Pell, Storer, Munns, Morgan-Smith, Wright. Subs: Lovett, Vaughan, Hall, Rowe, Waters, Dayton, Thomas