Ballyclare manager David Dorrian was rather downcast following his side’s 2-1 Steel and Sons Cup defeat by Ards Rangers.
A late Jonny Roy winner in additional time sealed the deal for the Premier Division champions after they had fought back from a goal down.
Andrew Simpson’s 16th-minute header put the Reds in the driving seat but David Dorrian’s side were reduced to 10 men on 39 minutes when Darren Doherty was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Rangers levelled matters through Jordan Kennedy on 69 minutes before Roy netted the last-gasp winner.
“I know the Steel Cup is close to the hearts of Ballyclare Comrades fans, so being knocked out in the first round by an Amateur League side was a bitter pill for them to swallow,” said Dorrian.
“However Rangers are not just an ordinary Amateur League side, they won the Premier Division and the Border Regiment Cup last season, but having said that we should have won.
“The turning point came when Doherty was sent off, having picked up his second yellow card. At that stage we were deservedly one up and looked good enough to see them off, and it was heart-breaking when they got the winner deep in to added time.
“Just before they got it Chris Getty almost won it for us; but their keeper grabbed the ball and launched it up-field for them to score at the opposite end,” he recalled.
Continuing he said: “It was a very physical game, and I thought that Rangers were fortunate to finish with 11 players on the pitch. Their long ball tactics cancelled out our midfield where John Dobbin and Samuel McIlveen usually excel, but Chris Getty and Adam McCart dealt well with lots of balls pumped in to the penalty area.
“We were without Wharry, Trussell, McQuitty, McDermott, McClurg and Eddie Hill, so basically we were down to the bare bones, but hopefully we will be nearer full strength this weekend when we travel to Knockbreda to fulfil a Championship 1 fixture.”
Meanwhile, Ballyclare Comrades Reserves continued their preparations for the new season with a 3-0 win over Whitehead Rangers. Strikes by Craig Todd, Ryan Burke and Gregg McFall won it as boss Stephen Hughes continued to blood recruits from the Under-19s.