Rochdale manager Keith Hill was "immensely proud" of his team after Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Doncaster in the Capital One Cup.
Just as it looked like the tie was heading for extra-time, Bongani Khumalo nodded in an 89th-minute winner to send Rovers into the second round of the competition.
Hill told the club's official website: "I'm disappointed to lose but like I said the other day, I can almost see without looking because we're planning and I'm immensely proud of the way that we took on a Championship side.
"They've got good calibre players, but we more than matched them. After more than matching them and sustaining quite a bit of pressure, probably from set-plays where ultimately the game was decided, I thought we performed superbly.
"I'm encouraged with the development in the squad and being able to make those changes without it having any lingering effects on our performance.
"I'm disappointed for the players, but this is about an endurance, this is about developing the squad and the football club, and I can see that.
"I think the supporters can see it and they are warming to the way we're doing things and we were very, very unfortunate to lose that game."