Phillip Cocu felt there was plenty to be positive about despite seeing Derby County bow out of the Carabao Cup at the Second Round stage with a 2-1 defeat to Preston North End on Tuesday night.
Daniel Johnson scored a 92nd-minute penalty as the visitors came from behind to beat 10-man Derby and reach the Third Round of the competition.
Young midfielder Jason Knight opened the scoring for Derby before defender Mike te Wierik was sent off for bringing down Sean Maguire soon afterwards.
Preston substitute Tom Barkhuizen fired home a long-distance equaliser before a controversial handball decision against Lee Buchanan gave the visitors a late penalty.
Cocu was less than impressed with the decision in added time and felt his side didn’t deserve to bow out of the competition in such circumstances.
“I have seen the incident on the iPad I think Lee Buchanan gets the ball against his face,” Cocu told RamsTV after the game.
“If that is the case, I maybe must check the rulebook again, but that is not a penalty. You must be a hundred per cent sure if it is a penalty.
“I think we did well, we played better and were more positive, more forward. I am pleased that Wayne Rooney played 90 minutes game for us as well, so there is lots of positive stuff.
“It is just difficult now to talk about the positives when this just happened before the end of the game.”
He added: “It is more that I feel for the lads because they deserved more today.”
Cocu admitted he did not have any complaints with te Wierik’s red card and the Dutch defender will miss Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship trip to Luton Town.
The 49-year-old was also pleased with how Derby performed for the 30 minutes that they were down to ten men.
He said: “I think that (incident) could get a red card. Our angle is more difficult to see, but if he is the last player and he makes the foul then I do not have any problems with that. If it is a rule, it’s a rule.
“I was really proud of the lads and how they played today. We tried to play under high and intense pressure from Preston and when we were down to ten men, we did well in the 4-1-4-1 formation.
“It is a shame we couldn’t go into the penalties and carry on playing in the Carabao Cup.”
Derby’s attention now turns to that trip to Luton as they look to get their first points of the campaign on the board in the Sky Bet Championship.
Looking ahead to the game, Cocu said: “We know we have to play good football and we need to put up a fight.
“They are a physical team and got some really good results in the second part of last season and have had a good start too.
“It will be a really tough game, but we are heading in the right direction if we keep moving forward and improving then we can have the confidence. We need all the energy we have.”