Mansfield Town skipper Zander Diamond admitted his comeback game from injury had turned into a strength-sapping test as his side played much of the 1-0 home defeat by Accrington Stanley with 10 men.
Mal Benning’s 13th minute red card left Stags up against it, but only a Seamus Conneely goal separated the sides in the end.
“I was delighted to be back,” said Diamond.
“It was more of a psychological barrier to get over to finally complete a game after recent weeks.
“It tested my reserves going down to 10 men but I dug in there and came through it unscathed.”
He added: “I think that was a harsh result in the context of the game.
“We put so much into it, going down to 10 men and we’ve conceded from a set play – that’s the really disappointing aspect.
“We have been very rigid in our shape and always looked dangerous when we got into goalscoring positions.
“We have done well but ultimately we’ve lost again. You have to take the positives and down to 10 men there was real desire from the boys, individually and collectively.
“I thought we were bang at it. We could accept it if we’d been cut open from open play. But we’ve been done by a set piece.
“Now we will lick our wounds, get back on the training field and go to Luton on Monday.
Diamond knows how tough it will be at a hostile Kenilworth Road.
He said: “It will be difficult. I played there a few years ago and their fans get right behind them. They are flying at the correct end of the table and it will be a difficult challenge.
“We have got to get our own shop in order and if we meet the challenge head on hopefully it will be a positive result come 5pm on Monday.
“The mood in our camp has to be high still. There are only seven games to go and there is no point in dwelling over what’s been.
“This is another game to go and put something right. Our fans will travel in numbers and hopefully we can reward them.”