Coach Franny Jeffers says Everton Under-23s’ last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday must provide a valuable learning experience for the young Blues.
Tommy Doyle’s last-minute penalty proved decisive as the Toffees were edged out at Southport FC's Pure Stadium.
Everton had earlier equalised through striker Ellis Simms – his fourth goal in four Premier League 2 games this term – after Samuel Edozie had given City an early lead.
The Under-23s are back in action after the international break when Tottenham Hotspur visit Southport on Monday 19 October.
“The lads are very down after that but Manchester City are a very good side who constantly ask questions and you’ve got to be switched on,” Jeffers said.
“They’ve got very good young players and they play like their first team in the way they find pockets of space and are always pulling you around at the back, but I felt that we matched them all over the pitch.
“Unsy [boss David Unsworth] has told the lads to get their heads up.
“It’s all part of the learning curve, concentrating for 95 minutes and not just 90.”
City drew first blood when Edozie found space on the right of the Blues box and his effort took a heavy deflection to wrong-foot Harry Tyrer.
Tyrer was then called on to parry away a well-struck effort from Doyle, the grandson of City legends Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe.
The equaliser came midway through the first half when Simms took advantage of some indecision in the City defence to prod the ball into an unguarded net.
Everton had a goal disallowed on the half hour. Ryan Astley won a header from a corner and Matthew Pennington nodded the ball past the keeper, only to be flagged offside.
Simms had an effort blocked a minute before the break after some excellent work on the right by Tyler Onyango.
Everton were quick off the blocks in the second half. Rhys Hughes forced James Trafford into a low save just 30 seconds after the restart and then Callum Connolly headed over from close-range.
At the other end, Tyrer was alert to save an angled effort from Ben Knight.
As the half progressed, City took a stranglehold on the game and began to find pockets of space in and around the Everton area.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis drilled a low shot wide from distance and James McAtee found himself unmarked 10 yards out and should have done better than to pull his effort off target.
There was real danger for Everton in he 85th minute when City were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Doyle struck it powerfully but the Blues' defensive wall did its job.
Disaster struck for Everton with less than 20 seconds to go. Joe Anderson fouled McAtee inside the box, the referee pointed to the spot and Doyle cracked home the winner.
Jeffers added: “City had a lot of the ball in the second half, but I thought we could always be a threat, but we got done at the end with a lapse in concentration or maybe a bit of tiredness.
“We didn’t start the season too well against Liverpool [a 1-0 defeat on the opening day of the season] when we felt that the lads weren’t quite at it but since then the way they’ve trained and the way they’ve played has been great.
“We’re disappointed today but there’s no blame on anyone and we’ll go again.”