Crawley Town manager Gabriele Cioffi admitted he was left with a 'bitter taste' after his side's narrow defeat to Premier League outift Brighton and Hove Albion, but was 'proud' of his team's efforts.
The Legue Two side pushed Brighton all the way in a contest that could only be decided by a late Taylor Richards penalty, and Cioffi was extremely encouraged by what he saw from his team, showing 'a couple of really good signs.'
Discussing his side's performance, Cioffi said: "I am really proud. We showed ideas, personality, and this is something very important. There are a couple of really good signs.
He continued: "Hopefully we are able to bring a couple more players in that we agreed are important for the squad. If not, we are happy. We are on the same page as the board and they offer a lot of support so we go on. "
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Crawley matched Brighton all over the pitch, keeping the ball for long periods of time and creating some good chances, and Cioffi was incredibly impressed with some players' performances in particular.
He said: "Bez (Lubala) was very good, Nathan Ferguson was very good, but even the boys that were already here. Panutche (Camara) was amazing, David (Sesay) was amazing, I think they really showed their potential. I am honestly happy with everyone's performance.
"I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth. I think 0-0 was better than 1-0, but this is football. This game was to underline what we are not able to do, not what we are able to do, and everyone played well tonight."
Reflecting on the decision that ultimately proved the difference in the game, Cioffi admitted he was 'upset' initially by the decision but accepted it in the end knowing that 'there was nothing they could do'.
He said: "I was upset honestly from the bench. But they scored it, they won 1-0, so even if they admit it wasn't a penalty, the result would not change, so there is nothing we can do.
"That''s football. We accept it, we go home, try to sleep and start again tomorrow. We are starting to build. If this is to be a castle, or a church, or just a house, who knows, but we really do believe in what we are doing so that is important."
Around 2,000 Crawley Town fans made the trip to watch the pre-season friendly against their Premier League guests, and manager Cioffi truly appreciated their support, insisting he 'wants to make them proud'.
He said: "The fans were fantastic tonight. We want to make them proud of us. There's a long way to go, we know that, but our dream is to fill up the stadium. Dreams are free so what is the problem? The first step is to get to 50 points, and then we will see."
Cioffi's Crawley side will be encouraged by the performance they put in against a young Brighton side, with the preparation ramping up now ahead of their opening League Two game away at Carlisle United on August 3.