Preston North End manager Simon Grayson focused on the positives following his side's 3-1 loss to Middlesbrough.
The Preston boss made seven changes to the side which beat Oldham Athletic in League One at the weekend as Jordan Hugill, John Welsh, Scott Wiseman and Will Hayhurst all made their first starts of the season.
Speaking to the press after the tie, Grayson insisted his players should be proud of their display despite the final result.
“I thought there were some good performances, a good team performance,” he said.
“I thought the work rate was good, the shape and discipline of the team was good and we were well and truly in the game.
“We had some good spells with and without the ball, we worked hard and obviously they’re a good team and they’ve got some good quality in that team as well.
“We can be proud of what we’ve done tonight because at one stage we probably had four or five lads under the age of 21 and they’ll have learnt so much from that game.”
Boyhood Middlesbrough fan Hugill got Preston’s only goal of the evening, nodding home from close range following Jack King’s flick-on at the near post.
The striker immediately sprinted towards the North End fans, who were sat in the far corner of the stadium, and celebrated with an emphatic knee-slide.
“It won’t come any better than nights like this for him,” Grayson said of Hugill’s goal on his full debut for the Club.
“He did really well at the weekend and I felt tonight he earned the opportunity to play and obviously against the team that he supports.
“He led the line really well, he was a handful for the centre halves, he put himself about, worked extremely hard and got his rewards with the goal.”
The likes of Bailey Wright, Paul Gallagher and Chris Humphrey did not feature for the Lilywhites in the north east due to slight knocks.
North End boss Grayson gave post-match injury update at the Riverside, saying: “He [Wright] was struggling, we will have to see where he is.
“Paul Gallagher wasn’t 100 per cent, Andy Little wasn’t either and we picked a team to come here and try and win the game but protect the players who are going to be available for the weekend as well.
“Saturday is the most important game for us this week. Tonight, it would have been nice to have won it. What we wanted to do was give a good account of ourselves, which we’ve done.
“So we’ll move onto the weekend and try and get another three points in the league.”