Alan Stubbs has praised Everton Under-21s' young stand-ins for their performance in the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Monday.
With a host of second-string regulars out on loan, the average age of the Everton side which played at Goodison was just 17.
And despite their opponents being older and more experienced at Under-21 level, Stubbs was proud of the spirit shown by the Academy contingent.
He told evertontv: "They did smashing. I've said to them that the performance far outweighed the result.
"We tried to call the game off because of the amount of lads we had out on loan and then we were of the understanding that they were going to play a very similar team to us, which proved to be very different to what was agreed.
"When you take into account that we've played against their proper Under-21 team, they've done great. We ended up with two 15-year-olds on the pitch at the end and had quite a few first and second-year scholars.
"It's very rarely in football you reflect on the performance because it's a results business, but it was great and there were a lot of plusses from the young ones. Although I will never be happy getting beaten, it bodes well in this case."
One moment that soured the game at Goodison was the broken leg suffered by Villa's Liam Bateman.
Stubbs added: "I must say that our best wishes go to the young lad. That will be echoed by everyone at the football club and we hope he has a speedy recovery."