David Unsworth lauded the “priceless” experience of participating in the Checkatrade Trophy following the young Blues’ exit from the competition.
After Tuesday evening’s all-important clash with Blackpool finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, the Toffees were eventually eliminated 5-4 on penalties.
It was a bitter pill for Unsworth’s side to swallow, but the coach insisted the lessons learned against Bolton Wanderers, Cheltenham Town and the Seasiders will stand his players in good stead for the future.
“It has been a great competition for us, we’re just a little bit disappointed not to have progressed to the knockout rounds,” he told evertontv. “It’s not been perfect in terms of when these games have been played because we’ve had a lot of lads out on international duty, but it’s been a priceless experience for the lads who have been involved.
“We’ve been able to test ourselves against good, senior opposition and that’s been great for us. It’s given them a taste of what to expect - that’s why we entered the competition and that’s why we have loved it.
“Whatever happens to this competition going forward, we hope we can still be invited into it because it’s served a purpose and helped the development of our young players.”
Armand Gnanduillet had opened the scoring for the visitors with a spectacular overhead kick two minutes into the second half, before Harry Charsley forced a penalty shootout with a confident, well-placed strike.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international had been a threat all evening, and, speaking after the game, coach Unsworth praised the midfielder’s current form.
He added: “Harry is the one at the moment who looks like scoring in every game. He has a terrific knack of coming up with a goal and looks a threat from whatever position he plays in.
“He really is growing into a good footballer at this level and he needs to keep progressing in the way he is doing now.”