GUTTED — that was the word for Blacktown City FC after their 4-2 loss to Marconi at Marconi Stadium on Saturday.
It was the word coach Mark Crittenden used.
Well, let Crittenden tell it himself.
"We're shattered, just gutted," said Crittenden of the Football NSW preliminary final loss.
"At the end of the day it was a case of boys versus men, they're a very experienced side and we probably lacked a bit of experience.
"We're gutted by tonight but I'm proud of them.
"To get where we did as a squad with a number of injuries, it was a good effort and I'm very proud of the boys." Crittenden might have reached for the superlatives a bit more.
Blacktown led twice against the hot favourites and Marconi only made the win certain five minutes into extra time, after Zac Cairncross was dismissed a minute earlier after receiving a second yellow card.
First half goals to Yuchi Yamauchi and Travis Major twice gave Blacktown that lead either side of Nahuel Arrarte's equalising spot kick, after Cairncross was adjudged to have fouled Jamie McMaster in the box.
McMaster levelled the scores soon after the restart, before a 35-yard screamer from Shane Webb was followed by that injury-time goal to Joey Gibbs.
Said a magnanimous Crittenden: "They pressured us and thoroughly deserved their win to be fair."
"We're looking forward to our trip away as we head off to Cairns," smiled Crittenden.
"We'll then have a couple of quiet ones and get ready to start all over again."
There'll be no more starts for one of the club's greatest servants, captain Luke Roodenburg.
"I've played nearly 220 games for Blacktown City and we've never missed a finals series in my time here," he said. "It's a great feeling, being able to play for the club you love."
The club legend joined from Parramatta Power in 2002.
"I've played in four grand finals, one cup final and won four premierships, so I've played in a hugely successful era."
He has a straightforward reason for retiring at just 31.
"Our second child is due in December and I have my own landscaping business," he said.
"Family is a priority at this stage. I wish I could say my body was starting to let me down, but I'm pretty fit and healthy.
"Unfortunately, football doesn't pay the bills."
Roodenburg said the club was making the right investment in youth, however.