Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley hailed the efforts of his players as they were reduced to nine men in their 3-0 Betfred Cup defeat to Dundee.
Referee Graham Napier sent off Blair Yule and Jamie Masson either side of half-time, with Cove already behind thanks to Paul McGowan’s opener.
Late goals from Danny Mullen and Charlie Adam – who missed an earlier penalty – gave the scoreline a more lopsided view than Cove deserved.
Hartley said: “It was strange. The sending offs are a little bit harsh. Blair’s was a soft shoulder – very rarely do you see that given as a penalty given against you.
“But the players never gave up, we were still right in the game at 1-0 with 15 minutes to go.
“(Jamie) Masson is not a dirty player. He goes in for the ball, turns his foot and it’s maybe more the reaction than anything else. He brings a yellow out and changes it to a red.
“We’re disappointed to lose two players, but sometimes you go through games in your life where you’re down to nine men playing against 11.
“I thought even with nine men our shape was good. The players never gave up and all credit to them. It was a difficult game for them tonight and they put in a lot of effort.”
McGowan superbly picked out the top corner after five minutes when Declan McDaid found him on the left side of the area.
Mullen and Jordon Brown both had shots repelled by the two goalkeepers before Napier dismissed Yule for a nudge on Max Anderson in the box. Adam stepped up, but hit the post with his penalty.
Cove were reduced to nine men 10 minutes after the interval when Napier raced to send off Masson, who had caught Jordan Marshall late, but not overly aggressively.
The visitors remained resolute and continued to probe for a way back into the game, with Mitch Megginson seeing an indirect free-kick inside the area going narrowly wide.
But they were finally beaten in the last five minutes when Mullen sneaked a shot inside Stuart McKenzie’s near post and Adam scored from his second spot-kick of the evening, after Ross Graham brought down Mullen.
Hartley said: “We had some good situations and chances in the first half, some good combination play. I’m not going to be too critical of the players. We knew we were going to freshen things up and we’ll do the same on the Saturday.”