Frankie McAvoy admitted he was “gutted” to be on the losing side against Liverpool, but he was proud of his team’s performance.
PNE were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, however that wasn’t the full story as the Lilywhites pushed the visitors hard in the first half especially.
Brad Potts had a couple of big opportunities to give his side the lead, with Sean Maguire and Ryan Ledson also coming close, but strikes from Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi sealed victory for the away side.
When asked whether it was a case of ‘what ifs’, Frankie said: “It probably was. We worked really hard yesterday on getting key moments in the game and hopefully we were good enough to take them.
“Unfortunately first half we didn’t and when Liverpool get their chances they took them.
“I just thought that our game plan was excellent. We knew at times we’d need to be very structured behind the ball because they’re excellent, they can try and slide passes through and cut you open.
“I felt in the first half that they never did that on any occasion and credit to the players, I thought to a man they were magnificent. The plan was to make sure that we were very, very hard to beat, very tough for Liverpool to play through us.
“The worst case scenario was they go outside us and put crosses into the box and maybe just be wary of diagonal runs in off our wing backs. Unfortunately we actually got done for that with the goal in the second half, just so disappointing to be honest but goals change games.
“I always felt that the longer the game would go on, you’re always in that cup tie and even when they scored their first goal I was still confident we could go and maybe get something out of the game, but unfortunately we were undone with a second goal.”
The head coach made nine changes to his side which played at the weekend and he was pleased with the attitude they showed on Wednesday evening in front of a sell-out Deepdale.
Frankie added: “I don’t think anybody could have any gripe about the hunger, the desire, the commitment, the energy, the enthusiasm, everything that was put into the game tonight for the boys.
“To be honest I’m gutted for them. I felt the supporters were magnificent and just a big, big thank you to them because I felt after the game on Saturday it was so disappointing to lose to Blackpool.
“I was a bit gutted and I think the least I could do was apologise to the fans. We were hoping we could get a better result in that, but tonight we knew that if we could stay in the game, we might have got an opportunity and chance to go and get into the quarter-finals, and I’m just a bit gutted that we didn’t manage to do that.
“But they’re a top team, one of the best teams in the world and there’s not many teams that can do that with Liverpool.”
Next up for PNE is another game at Deepdale, with Luton Town – who currently sit fifth in the Championship – making the trip north to Lancashire.
“They’re all big games,” said Frankie. “Every game is a big game. The biggest thing for me is when you’ve seen the team tonight it was nine changes from Saturday in the Blackpool game.
"It’s fine margins. There’s not a lot between the players in our squad in all honesty. It’s just trying to make sure that we get the right team on the pitch and tonight I felt that in the main we did exactly what we set out to do.
“I’m just a bit gutted that we’ve conceded in the manner that we did, but they’re a top class team and what we need to do is take that forward and hopefully we can learn from the good bits we did tonight and take that forward into Saturday.”
Watch Frankie’s full interview on iFollow PNE at the top of this page.