Notts County head of academy coaching Dan Leivers was upbeat despite defeat at Port Vale in the Youth Alliance Cup.Notts' under 18s went into the game unbeaten in the 2016-17 season, but that record was ended after a tough 25 minutes in the second half in which Port Vale capitalised to win 2-0.
"We kept possession well from the back and at times showed some real understanding of playing out and linking play through midfielders, it was just the transition into creating goalscoring opportunities that was lacking."
Although the Magpies went into the break at deadlock, Leivers was quick to praise Curtis Hall in goal for his performance, with the youngster making his first appearance of the season, keeping Notts in the game.
He said: "We came in at half time at 0-0 and we have Curtis Hall to thank for that, making some excellent saves. Joe Searson-Smithard has been fantastic in goal so far this year, but we have a responsibility for Curtis to access games in his first year as well so we thought this was a good opportunity for him and he didn't let us down."
However, the second half didn't go according to plan, as Leivers explained: "Conceding quite early on set the tone for the first 25 minutes of the half. We didn't keep possession of the ball and defensively we were not in good shape. At 2-0 down we didn't look good, and we were in and out of possession so we made changes. We brought on Edwin Towers, another first year who has not played much so far this season, and also Coden Duncan and Tyreece Kennedy-Williams, two under 16s who are doing well at the moment.
"Our best spell of the game was the final 20 minutes when the young boys were on. They gave us some enthusiasm again and played without fear, which is great to see."
With the Magpies two goals down, Leivers was left to rue late missed chances.
Leivers said: "We should certainly have scored late on when Sam Osborne rounded the keeper and shot over. But in all honesty we didn't deserve to get anything out of the game.
"We aren't out of the cup yet, so we go into the final game against Wrexham trying to win to progress. We also know that focus now goes back to the league fixture this weekend at home against Chesterfield.
"I love working weeks after a loss as it means we have a lot to learn and we can all get our teeth into working hard to make improvements. One thing I can guarantee with this group is that they will work hard as a team and will be raring to go again come Saturday."