Chris Beech said he was proud of the way Carlisle United went “toe to toe” with a good League One side in Doncaster – despite the Blues’ FA Cup exit.

United were knocked out of the competition as Ben Whiteman’s first-half double put Donny in command before Jon Mellish’s consolation.

The 2-1 Second Round defeat might have panned out differently had Mellish taken an earlier opportunity but Beech said Darren Moore’s visitors were ruthless when it mattered.

He said, though, that Carlisle can take encouragement from the way they tested the third-tier outfit.

Beech said: “I’m disappointed we’re out but very proud of the performance. Doncaster are a very well-managed team with some excellent players within their structure, and play some really good football.

“We definitely went toe-to-toe with them and dominated the second half, but they’re excellent – a little bit like we saw with Callum Camps for Fleetwood, when they get the chance they put the ball in the net.

“They get more from less and that’s what players who play higher do.

“He [Whiteman] is an excellent central midfield player and managed to score two goals from two chances. He probably had the least amount of touches he’s had in a match this season but managed to get two goals.

“We got one goal and didn’t quite get the other. We made changes to try and get that to take the game into extra-time.

“But Darren is a good man, a good manager, and he’s got Doncaster playing some lovely football – full credit to him and his team and the management team behind him, because they are really good.”

Mellish’s 12th goal of the season gave United late hope in the tie but Beech insisted the earlier close-range opportunity missed by Carlisle’s top scorer did not set the tone for the rest of the contest.

The head coach said: “He didn’t really know where he was off the run he made, and he felt like, in retrospect, he should have just headed it into an empty goal, but he didn’t know if anybody was gonna challenge him.

“So he turned into it and didn’t quite get it right. He should have scored but he didn’t.

“I don’t think the game changed on that, because I felt as though both teams were boxing well, boxing clever.

“It changed on two outstanding moments from their central midfield player.”

Beech said United had been frustrated at some of the decisions of ref Scott Oldham, including the booking issued to Joshua Kayode for diving late in the first half.

Carlisle’s boss added: “I’ve not looked at it, but I heard contact. We don’t really dive – we don’t. We should do more, because we don’t make the referee’s decisions simpler.

“For us not to get the penalty and get punished with a booking, especially with what was going on within that game, was very harsh.

“The lads are wounded animals so will have to lick their wounds for a night and see how we are.

“I’m just very proud of the efforts, the energies, their qualities, and the ability to get better at what we’re doing.”

Beech also gave his reasoning for his decision to substitute a substitute late in the game.

United’s boss brought on teenage midfielder Josh Dixon in the 70th minute, but replaced him in the final moments in order to send on striker Gavin Reilly.

It was Carlisle’s third change in the tie, a fourth also allowed in cup ties that go to extra-time.

Beech said: “Josh was on to play a telling pass and to try and get a shot off. He knows I’ve not done that because of his performance.

“We were going out of the FA Cup, we needed to score a goal, so that’s what we needed to do.

“I think taking somebody like Callum Guy or Jon Mellish off at that point, or one of our attackers off, to put an attacker on…maybe I could have brought off a defender, but if we score the equaliser, I’m short for extra-time, so it was the right decision to do just to flip over Josh for five minutes.

“It was to try and get Gav that chance, and he got one at the back post but not quite on his terms – he had to stretch – but that’s the only reason [for the substitution]. There’s no criticism of anybody in any shape or form.”