David Unsworth was left ruing two first-half mistakes as Everton Under-21s lost 2-1 to Manchester United on Monday.
James Wilson struck early, reacting quickest after Andreas Pereira’s shot was well kept out by Russell Griffiths, then Paddy McNair made it 2-0 just before half-time as he capitalised on a weak clearance from a free-kick.
Despite skipper Jonjoe Kenny sending Anders Lindegaard the wrong way from the spot after Andy Kellet had handled, the early advantage given to the visitors proved too much for the young Blues.
And coach Unsworth admitted it was a harsh lesson for his players.
“It’s difficult to take a little bit but we got punished by our individual errors,” he explained. “Unfortunately we made two in the first half and gave them a 2-0 head start. It’s always an uphill battle in that situation.
“But, in between both penalty areas we were the better team. It was just our decision-making at times and our individual errors has cost us in the penalty area. That gifted a good Manchester United the goals.
“There was a great reaction in the second half after we changed the system a couple of times. The players took on those systems really well but you can’t give anybody a two-goal start, let alone Man United.
“What we have to learn is, at this level, if you make a mistake in your own penalty area, you get punished.
“It happens in the first team, where these players aspire to be. If you make mistakes in the final third, chances are you are going to concede a goal. They have got to learn and learn quickly because we can’t keep making the same mistakes.
“But the character of this group I can never question. They showed that again in the second half, but ultimately we have not won the game.”
Watch highlights of Monday's game in the video above. Users of the Official Everton App will need to navigate to the 'Video' section.