Northampton Town Under 18s coach Shane Goddard says his side have “grown so much” as a result of their pre-season tour of the Netherlands.
The young Cobblers ended their pre-season preparations with the short trip across the German border to face Bochum on Tuesday.
Reuben Wyatt scored the Northampton goal as they were defeated by their opponents, who finished third in the top level of German youth football last season.
Goddard believes his team were competitive against such strong opposition.
“We were playing one of the very best in academy football and we held in there,” he said.
“We weren’t at our best defensively in the first 20 minutes and we conceded two avoidable goals.
“We found a way back into the game with a great goal and we had openings where we’ll feel we could have got a second.
“But we ran out of steam in the last 30 minutes because they were able to bring on fresh legs and we’re on the back of three games in quick succession.
“Fatigue affected our decision-making and ability to put pressure on the ball, and that’s when their quality really showed.
“We knew they were going to have a lot of the ball so we focussed on our structure being right, and it was good for large parts of the game.
“We can’t get hung up on the defeat because there have been so many positives from this trip.
“We’ve grown so much and we’re in a much better place going into our league and cup campaigns.”
The youth team return to competitive action a week on Saturday away to Bournemouth in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup southern section first round.