Horsham were knocked out of the Alan Turvey Trophy in the first round, despite a positive display against division-higher Burgess Hill on Tuesday.
Goals from Tadley Bromage and Curtis Gayler gave the hosts a route into the next round against a ten-man Hornets.
The visitors had substitute Lewis Hyde sent off with just under 20 minutes to go for a last-man tackle moments after coming on and then conceded a second late on.
Horsham boss Di Paola was buoyed by the performance and felt there were plenty of positives despite the result.
He said: “I thought we did alright and played some really nice football if nothing else.
“The first half was quite even and we were in the game, but the sending-off killed it.
“To be honest, we played quite well with ten, but with no right-back on the pitch they cut in and scored again.
“We were never going to win it. You need a huge amount of luck to get to the quarter-finals or semi-finals with teams in the league above.
“It’s not the end of the world, it’s a shame as it was quite an even game, but I know they rested a few, so we can’t get carried away.
“Scott Kirkwood and George Branford both played very well for us and were great pluses as well.”
Kirkwood lined up against the side he left last month, while the home side gave game time to a couple of their youngsters.
Gayler tested Josh Pelling within the first minute of play. At the other end, Terry Dodd fired high from 20 yards and had a header tipped wide. Bromage notched the opener after meeting Dan Thompson’s low driven cross on 23 minutes.
Liam MacDevitt was lively on the right-hand side, but Josh James made a few saves from Horsham efforts as the Hillians held strong and went into half-time with the lead.
Burgess Hill raced out of the gates in the second half with James Richmond, Guy Bolton and Bromage all coming close to doubling the Hillians lead.
Just after the hour mark, Lee Harding was brought down by Lewis Hyde, who saw red for the challenge after clearly denying a goalscoring opportunity having come on moments earlier.
Horsham had an effort cleared off the line and Tony Nwachukwu’s ball saw Kirkwood volley across goal.
But with less than five minutes to go, Gayler flicked the ball over the head of a Horsham defender and curled the ball into the bottom right corner to seal the victory.
Horsham: Pelling, Duncan (Hyde 60), Jones, Sackman, Whitehead, Lawley, Branford, Carney (Harris 77), Kirkwood, MacDevitt, Dodd (Nwachukwu 68). Unused subs: Lewis, Andrade.