Youth team coach Andy Fensome spoke after the battling PNE Academy went out of the FA Youth Cup to holder Norwich after extra time.
The young Lilywhites took the lead through Jack Ryan’s fifth goal of the competition, but the Canaries struck back immediately and the game went to 30 minutes added time.
Then a four goal blitz in the opening 11 minutes of the extra period ended the tie as a contest. However, the former PNE full back thought the U18s could be proud of their efforts, particularly in the first 90 minutes.
“I thought in the first 90 minutes we could have won the game 1-0,” he told PNE.Com. “We switched off from a set piece, which is really disappointing, because we have gone over that in the last 24 hours, time and time again.
“We had a goal disallowed and I thought we just shaded it in the 90 minutes. In the extra-time we were possibly a little bit weak mentally. We conceded the first and they seemed to rain in after that.”
Under 16 prospect and 15-year-old Adam Robinson was a key player in the first half, along with goalscorer Ryan, but he was forced off at the break, something that changed the balance of the line-up.
“Adam Robinson is a very good young player,” continued ‘Fenners’. “He got concussed doing an excellent tackle. It was a 50/50, he got thrown up in the air and hit his head and we took him off on the doctor’s recommendation which threw our shape a little bit.
“Jack Ryan was immense in the first half today and some of the second years had really good games today. Jack is playing well at the minute. He is full of confidence. He wants the ball all the time and he possibly could have had another couple – one was disallowed and he had a couple of half chances. He did really well today and has hopefully put himself in the thoughts of everyone else.”
The thing that left everyone talking, however, was the four goal salvo in ten minutes at the start of extra-time: “I thought there could have been a free kick on the far side just before the goal, but once they scored it they went on and passed the ball around and killed us off within a five minute spell.
“Maybe our boys were so disappointed at conceding that they switched off, which is disappointing, but we have to look at the positives and hopefully they have learned from it and put themselves right for the league games after Christmas.
“We have put in some really good performances and that includes up until the 90th minute today.
“The 30 minutes after it will cloud our judgement slightly, because we have conceded poor and sloppy goals and switched off, but that’s part of football and if you are going to be a footballer you have to learn to deal with all these adversities.
“Hopefully the boys will learn from it and come back stronger. We will have a bit of a job picking them up for a while now, but that’s football,” he added.