Northampton Town Under 18s coach Shane Goddard was disappointed as his side began 2022 with a 4-1 defeat away to Sutton United in the EFL Youth Alliance League South East on Friday.
Jack Connor scored his 16th of the season in all competitions to pull a goal back for the young Cobblers late on, but the game was over by that point.
Speaking after the match, Goddard said: “We looked lethargic in the opening period and it’s frustrating that we conceded a goal so early which put us on the back foot.
“We lacked the quality we needed to impact the game and get a result.
“We let two quick goals in from scrappy set pieces that we didn’t deal with in the second half and we were out of the game.
“We had nothing to lose, we started playing better and we put them under pressure.
“We were in the game and on top for the last few minutes but we gave ourselves too much to do unfortunately.
“It’s a disappointing start to the year in terms of the result, but there were some good individual performances.
“You can see that Jack Connor is benefitting from playing senior football on loan at Corby Town, for example.
“He looked lively, brought other players into the game well and caused problems for their back line.
“We’ve got a lot of boys out on loan and some of them were included in senior squads over the weekend.
“It’s a really important transitional period where we’re getting the boys ready for senior football and showcasing what they can do.
“That means there’ll be opportunities for younger players to play.”
The youth team travel to Cogenhoe United in the Northamptonshire FA David Joyce Cup semi final on Thursday before returning to league action at home to top-of-the-table AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.