Cameron Toshack insists there are plenty of positives to focus on despite Swansea City Under-21s’ exit from the Checkatrade Trophy.
The young Swans were beaten 2-1 by Bristol Rovers at the Liberty Stadium, where substitute Alex Jakubiak scored in the 89th minute to send the League One side through to the third round.
The development side had taken the lead thanks to a well-worked Jordon Garrick goal, only to see the advantage overturned.
Nevertheless, Toshack believes his players can hold their heads high having qualified for the knockout stages of the competition for a third consecutive year.
“There are a lot of positives to take,” the under-21s coach said. “Most of the boys in the team haven’t played against a league side in a knockout competition before.
“Now they have and are able to pitch where they are compared to that level.
“For most of the game, our young men applied themselves very well, worked really hard and scored a fantastic goal with an excellent interchange of passing, good movement and a fantastic finish at the end from Jordon.
“It’s disappointing to go out but, at the same time, we’re very proud of our young men for making this game possible by qualifying from the group stage for a third year running. They’ve done ever so well to come this far.”
Five minutes after going in front, the Swans were undone by a free-kick that was deflected past Steven Benda off the head of Tony Craig.
Jakubiak then capitalised on a stray pass by running half the length of the field before slotting home a dramatic winning goal.
And Toshack has encouraged the development side to learn from their mistakes as they strive towards first-team football.
“Tonight, the average age of our opponents was 27, so there was a gap between them and us,” he added.
“But, at the same time, we expect our young men to learn week on week and find ways that will enable them to challenge these older professionals.
“Our problems this evening came when we allowed a free-kick into our box and the deflection went straight in. Then somebody picked the ball up 10 yards inside their own half and ended up scoring the winning goal.
“If you’re going to be a professional footballer for a long time, you have to avoid those things happening.”