BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent manager Tom Rothery admitted the best side won following his team’s FA Trophy exit against Hayes and Yeading.

The pair met in a third qualifying round replay at the Taydal Stadium on Tuesday night, after drawing 0-0 on Saturday.

An attractive tie at Trophy holders Brackley Town, of National League North, awaited the winners, in addition to prize money worth £5,000.

But it was Hayes who overturned a half-time deficit to win 2-1 and progress to the first-round proper on December 15.

“Over the two games, the better team went through,” admitted Rothery.

“I’m disappointed, of course, and I don’t think anyone could fault the workrate of our players.

“We battled and put bodies on the line to stop them getting a second goal.

“But I’ll always be honest and over the two matches, they deserved to win.

“It’s as simple as that and sometimes you just have to hold your hands up.

“We were busy and industrious but there wasn’t enough quality on show, whereas they tried to get the ball down and play.”

Regent led at half-time thanks to a goal five minutes before the break.

Jake Gould whipped in a perfect left-wing cross and Jake Clowsley directed his header beyond keeper Jack Smith.

Unfortunately for the hosts, however, it was a lead that only lasted until seven minutes after the restart.

Toby Little fed Duncan Culley, who had been sent off in the first meeting between the sides, and he powered a low effort beyond keeper James Bradbrook.

The visitors then grabbed their winner in the 79th minute, scored by Little with a free-kick from the right that dipped under Bradbrook’s bar.

“It was annoying that their winning goal came from a free-kick that I thought was a weak decision,” admitted Rothery.

“We have to look at ourselves, though.

“We played against ten men for 65 minutes on Saturday and had we given half of what we did on Tuesday we wouldn’t have needed the replay and found ourselves in this position.”

Next up for Regent - second from bottom in the Bostik League premier division - is a crunch match at home to the side directly above them, Burgess Hill Town, on Saturday (3pm).