David Unsworth had no complaints after Everton Under-23s fell to a 2-1 defeat against Leicester City at Holmes Park on Monday night.
Anthony Gordon slotted home an 86th-minute penalty but by then it was too late for the visitors to mount a comeback against a talented Foxes side.
“Leicester were better than us in every department,” said Unsworth. “They worked harder than we did. We came with a late fight but it was too little, too late.
“Leicester were bigger, stronger and quicker and they’ve been successful this season. They are very good at what they do at this level.”
The hosts controlled large parts of the opening 45 minutes but for all their possession, Everton keeper Nico Hansen was largely untested, which was testament to the Blues’ defending.
Hansen was needed in the 34th minute, though, when he dived to his left to stop a penalty from Admiral Muskwe after the Leicester forward had been fouled by Con Ouzounidis.
Prior to that, a close-range header from George Hirst, son of former Sheffield Wednesday striker David, was the closest the Foxes got in the first half.
Unsworth played three central defenders, Ouzounidis, Ryan Astley and Joe Anderson, and they stood firm in the face of some strong Leicester pressure but two quick-fire goals after the break put the hosts firmly in the driving seat.
On 55 minutes, Everton failed to deal with a Leicester corner and Hansen found himself stranded, allowing Muskwe to prod the ball into the net.
Three minutes later the advantage was doubled when a fine Foxes move ended with Callum Wright sweeping his shot past Hansen.
Everton’s goal came with four minutes remaining as Anderson’s surging run was ended when he was bundled over inside the box and Gordon placed his kick into the corner of the net.
“We set up with a back five and a midfield four which was a game plan and it worked well in the first half,” said Unsworth. “We wanted to open the game up after 60-70 minutes but then we conceded two goals. It’s disappointing but these young players have got to learn and they’ve got to learn fast. The goals are schoolboy errors.”