Ryan Lowe took plenty of positives from Preston North End’s competitive Carabao Cup tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers and said there was no shame in his side bowing out of the competition against Premier League opposition.
The Lilywhites started brightly before falling behind to first-half strikes from Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traoré, but came out fighting in the second half and were soon back in the contest with a fine 20-yard strike from Ben Woodburn.
While his side couldn’t find an equaliser from that point on, it remained an enthralling contest as Molineux, thanks to a North End performance which left Ryan feeling proud.
He told iFollow PNE: “Fantastic, especially second half. I thought moments in the first half there were some good passages of play and only for that little bit of killer instinct. [If] we just took a little bit more care in the first half, there was opportunities for us.
“We made many changes tonight, because we felt Saturday is more important, but it’s more important that these lads need to play for when they are called upon. I thought they were fantastic, well worthy of a goal second half, well worthy of another one really because if that goes in you take them to penalties.
“No shame, I think there’s a lot of positives, I’m really proud of them because of the attitude and application. It’s hard when you come to a Premier League outfit especially when you see their team and there’s not many changes and then you look at three subs coming on with 15 minutes to go, probably worth £70 million.
“I’m proud of the group, disappointed as well obviously because you want to score more goals, you want to get the draw if you could take it to penalties but definitely no shame in that performance I thought the lads were fantastic.”
It was an evening made more pleasant for Ryan as his side came up against such high-quality opposition – although he felt Wolves’ respect for his Lilywhites side was evident, too.
“They showed us some massive respect when the five minutes went up because they kept the ball, they didn’t want to score, they just didn’t want to give it us back because we knew we had a little bit of a threat towards the back end.
“The quality they’ve got is phenomenal, that’s why they’re in the Premier League, they’re well-coached, fantastic players. But it was a nice evening to watch and see and it’s nice to see my players take part and competing with these players, which is a privilege.”
Ben Woodburn was one of a number of players who impressed the gaffer, who admitted that the midfielder’s goal took him by surprise slightly.
“When he swung his left foot, I thought, ‘What are you doing?’ Then it rolls into the bottom corner. I think he’s given the ‘keeper the eyes. He’s done fantastically well in there tonight, Ben, in that No.10 position he had to drop down.
“I was pleased that the lads stuck to the game plan, especially second half. If you look at it that way, we won the second half, I know there’s no consolation for that but the fact of that matter is for us, the belief for us to go forward and keep winning games of football wherever we play is important.
“All the lads who have come in tonight have done themselves proud. That’s what I want but I said to them in there it’s a squad game, it isn’t a team game, and they know now the games are coming thick and fast.”
Academy products Lewis Leigh and Jacob Slater came off the bench late on and there was further representation from the club’s youth set-up on the night with Dana Amaral and Mikey O’Neill also on the bench while first year scholar Kaedyn Kamara travelled with the squad.
“It’s part of what I do, I want to bring the youth together, the youth have got a fantastic youth system,” Ryan continued. “Young Kaedyn Kamara travelled with us today, he’s 16-years-old.
“As for Jacob Slater, he’s a phenomenal player. Left-sided player, he can play left-wing back, left centre half, he’s got all the attributes to be a fantastic player.
“What a great occasion for them, they should be proud because mixing it with Premier League stars is really pleasing for them. Well done.”
Watch more from Ryan on iFollow PNE.