MARK HUGHES says he will draw huge encouragement from his side's impressive performance against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon despite slipping to just a third home defeat of the season.
England under-21 international Danny Rose headed home the only goal of the game midway through the first half to secure the visitors an undeserved victory, and in the process end the Potters' hopes of recording what would have been a record-breaking fifth consecutive home Premier League triumph.
Speaking to Stoke City Player following the conclusion of the game, Hughes hailed the professionalism and never-say-die attitude of his players and registered his disappointment at having to play almost half of the encounter with just ten men.
"I stand here incredibly proud to be perfectly honest because the performance from my players was absolutely fantastic and I think that was recognised by everybody inside the stadium," the Welshman said.
"The backing we got from the supporters, in what were very difficult circumstances, certainly drove us on but I think that they were all encouraged by the way that we continued to press Spurs back for long periods of the second half.
"In my view, the situation we found ourselves in wasn't of our own doing, I would suggest the referee played a part in that, but we still managed to assert ourselves on them and really should have taken the game away from them.
"Never at any point did we feel sorry for ourselves, and to a man I thought we stood toe-to-toe with them, and truth be told, produced the more penetrative football throughout the duration of the afternoon."
He added: "I just want to congratulate each and every one of them because in what was a very difficult afternoon for them, given the poor sending off decision, we looked faster than Spurs, possessed more quality than them and deserved at least a point.
"Had we have had eleven players on the pitch for the second half then I am absolutely convinced that we would have gone on to win the game. It's frustrating and disappointing, but I have nothing but admiration for our lads today."