Simon Davies refused to let Chesterfield’s last-minute equaliser dampen his satisfaction with Manchester City U21s' performance in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The goal prevented City from progressing beyond the group stage of the competition, but nonetheless, the manager took great pride in what he saw from his young side.
With 20 the oldest age in the Blues squad, they gave years of experience away to the League 2 outfit, but turned in an impressive performance to fightback from a goal down with 10 men and were heading through to the last 32 until Chris O’Grady struck.
It was a bitter blow and Davies acknowledged his players' disappointment, but he is able to look at the bigger picture.
“The lads were gutted and I have to lift them, but that’s easy to do because I’m buzzing with the way they played,” he explained
“Sometimes, because they want to win so much they don’t see the true class they produce.
“They played with real character and I am really proud of them. We played some good football and we scored both our goals with nine men on the pitch.
“I thought we were excellent.”
For Davies, it was his players' response to going a goal and a man down 15 minutes from time that was particularly pleasing.
“I thought they played the City way, the way we want our Academy graduates to play,” he said.
“They didn’t panic and there was a maturity about their play for such a young team – Taylor Richards is still only 16 – and I thought they played like that throughout.”
It was not just the display at the Proact Stadium which satisfied the EDS boss, who feels he can draw positives from the manner in which his side conducted themselves in all three Checkatrade Trophy games.
And more importantly for him, is how the experience will aid his players' development.
“It’s been a great competition for our young players,” Davies declared.
“They will now know what level they think they’re at. They need to reflect on that but I thought they were good in all three games and it’s been a good challenge.
“There’s not been a game where we’ve really struggled and there’s been a physical challenge too, so if we don’t control our play and the ball then we’ll get hurt and we’ve not been hurt in any of the games.
“It’s a credit to the boys for that.”