An honest Brian McDermott conceded that the better team had lost but praised Leeds United for showing a winning mentality after a lively Capital One Cup scrap with Chesterfield.
United reached the second round last night with a 2-1 victory over a League Two side who drew praise from McDermott for their expansive and ambitious performance at Elland Road.
Chesterfield opened the scoring with a 19th-minute goal and dominated periods of the game including a tense finish in which Nathan Smith almost forced extra-time by hitting a post.
First-half goals from Michael Brown and Dominic Poleon averted an upset on an evening when McDermott made seven changes to the line-up which beat Brighton on Saturday and United’s manager cut a relieved figure after full-time.
“We won and that’s important,” McDermott said.
“We started well and it looked like it was going to be a good night for us - and it was a good night because we won and we’re in the next round.
“But Chesterfield played really well, they kept the ball better than us, and we lost our way in the game.
“Sometimes that happens and you have to dig in and get a result.
“You have to get a winning habit.
“We went behind again at home and that’s something we have to address but the result is everything in a cup game. We got over the line in the end.”
The first-round match drew a crowd of more than 17,000 - a higher attendance than McDermott witnessed for his second league game in charge last season - and the Leeds boss said: “I thought the fans were great.
“They didn’t get edgy at all and they got behind the players when we weren’t playing particularly well.”
McDermott, meanwhile, poured further water on suggestions that Ross McCormack could leave Elland Road before the end of the transfer window.
Leeds have rejected bids for the Scotland international from Middlesbrough and Blackpool and McDermott said: “He’s staying. He wants to stay at Leeds and I want him to stay at Leeds.
“We’ve had a couple offers which the club have knocked back and that’s it. There’s no more to it.”