Stuart McCall felt City could take pride in defeat after their FA Cup exit at nemesis Notts County.

Goals in the two minutes either side of the break ultimately proved the difference, despite Michael Boulding coming off the bench to score for the fourth time in five games.

But McCall praised his players for banishing the demons of their previous thumping at Meadow Lane in August.

He said: “The performance was key for me. I wanted to see the character of the squad because going back there held bad memories for a few of them.

“I’m naturally disappointed to go out but pleased with the way that we played – even more so, after going 2-0 down so early in the second half when it would have been easy to go under.”

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood was City’s star of the show and McCall, who has been critical of the goals they have shipped away from home, highlighted the team’s defensive resilience.

He said: “Easty’s had to make saves and he made some fantastic ones for us. For a young kid, he’s shown a great character.

“I also thought the two centre halves showed more steel. They’ve got a good appetite and work ethic but we’ve talked about being more physically strong and they did that against (Ade) Akinbiyi.

“Middle to front, Notts County have got Championship/League One quality and they will cause most teams problems and make plenty of chances.

“But I’m pleased that we caused them problems as well. It wasn’t backs to the wall after the first 15 minutes and we got at them when we could.”

After pulling a goal back, Boulding was convinced he should have had a penalty for a foul by Mike Edwards.

Boulding said: “I thought it was a definite penalty but sometimes they don’t get given unfortunately.

“I had the ball on the opposite side of the man and he came straight through me – the ball never moved.

“But at least we didn’t collapse and crumble like the last time we were here.”

McCall added: “The referee was not even over the halfway line with the penalty shout. You can’t expect him to give it because he couldn’t keep up with play there.”

Gareth Evans has a foot injury that will keep him out of Tuesday’s JPT clash with Port Vale. Lee Bullock will also miss out after his fifth booking.