O'Leary: We did everything but score

27th November 2013

Kristian O'Leary says his side did "everything but score" after they were knocked out of the U21s Premier League Cup by Watford on Tuesday afternoon.

After neither side were able to find an elusive winner, at the end of 120 minutes, the young Swans were beaten 4-3 on penalties.

In truth, the young Swans were not short of opportunities to see off the Hornets within normal time, with Watford goalkeeper Dan Wilks putting in a fantastic performance to prevent O'Leary's side from going through.

Strikes from in-form forward Rory Donnelly were kept out by Wilks on numerous occasions, while the shot-stopper performed yet more heroics to save two James Loveridge spot-kicks - once in the 65th minute and the other in the shootout.

Watford will now face either QPR or Reading in the last 16 of the tournament, and O'Leary says he's disappointed his side's cup run has come to an end.

"It's so disappointing because it was a great opportunity for us, looking at the way the draw had panned out," said O'Leary. "I wanted us to go as far as we possibly could.

"It was probably our best performance of the season. We did everything but score.

"As the performances have been getting better and better, over the last eight weeks or so, the chances we've been creating have been great opportunities.

"It could have been four or five before 30 minutes, and on another day, that game could have finished eight or nine nil. 

"For the 120 minutes, our keeper only had to make one save.

"That's not being disrespectful to Watford - they've got a great young manager, who I played with for Wales, and they defended well.

"You have to credit their keeper, who had the game of his life, to be fair to him. He was outstanding.

"And when it went to penalties, they came out winners. 

"We have to congratulate them on their doggedness and the way they stuck in there. They could have folded and made it a lot easier for us."

But despite going out of the cup, O'Leary insists there were plenty of positives to take from yesterday's harsh defeat.

He added: "I think the work that we have been putting in is certainly paying off now.

"Yesterday was by far the most opportunities we've created since I've been back at the club, so you can see the work we've been doing is coming together. 

"Now we just need that final bit, which is always the most difficult thing in football.  

"It's been an extra two games for the boys, and hopefully they will learn from the experience of yesterday. 

"I've been through it as a player in the play-off final when we were the dominant team against Barnsley but lost on penalties. It's not nice, but it's all about learning. 

"We have a friendly and two league games before the Christmas break. The challenge we've set the players is to keep the standard of performance up but to add the finishing touches to it."