TNS boss Scott Ruscoe insists his players can hold their heads high despite their exit from the Europa League on Thursday night.

A Dean Ebbe goal midway through the first half did make it 1-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate but two late goals was enough to end Saints' adventures for another year.

However, Ruscoe was delighted with the experiences the campaign has brought for his new-look team and was full of praise.

"I was happy with the performance of the side (over the two legs)," he told TNS TV. "I said in the dressing room how proud I was of the players when you look at everything that goes with this.

"Take nothing away from our players – we've had six great games and it's been a learning curve and great experience for our young players, some of who are having a first taste of European football.

"And for the older players too as they want to grasp the chance to play European football for many more years to come because when it's gone, it's gone.

"The performance over the two legs showed the grit and determination of this squad and how they fight for one another. It showed how hard they worked to keep teams out when under so much set-piece pressure."

Ruscoe was delighted with Irish forward Ebbe, who grabbed his fourth goal in Europe this season and admitted his substitutions reflected on him not giving up on a miracle.

He added: "You're always going to get chances and it's whether you can get that goal or not. It was great for Dean to get four goals in six games.

"But it also showed that we can also get chances at these players but because they are few and far between, you have to take them.

"They were frustrated in the first half – you could see it in the players, the staff and the fans – and I'm glad we made a game of it.

"Even with 25 minutes to go we knew we still had a chance. We wanted to make changes anyway but they were all attacking and positive to see what we could do."