Jason Dodd felt his young side’s performance in the Youth Cup didn’t reflect the progress they’ve made in the league this season.
The 18s Coach saw Saints fall to a 2-0 defeat and a third round exit of the competition at St Mary’s, which left Dodd to reflect on another missed opportunity on home soil, having been knocked out at the same venue last season.
“We just didn’t play tonight,” he told Saints Player.
“Fair play to Everton they came with a game plan with 4-1-4-1 made it difficult for us to break them down , but really we just had too many players that were off tonight, and it’s the second year in a row where we haven’t performed on the big occasion.
“We’ve been doing terrific all season and then we just struggled tonight and we didn’t get it going.”
Saints went behind with eleven minutes on the watch when George Waring struck for the visitors, but a late rally at the end of the first 45 minutes gave his side hope going into the interval.
“I told them to just keep believing. We set a little game plan of what we wanted to do, but the sad thing is as it happened last year as well a few of them didn’t stick to it and we were doing thing that hasn’t got them the success that they’ve been having so that really affected us and we didn’t test their ‘keeper enough.
“The first goal was disappointing from a defensive point of view, they got in behind us too easily and fair play to the big man he’s put a good finish in, but from our point of view he was the only one up there so we should have dealt with it a lot better, and to be honest we struggled to deal with him all night.”
Equally frustrating was the fact that Saints failed to find the back of the net for the first time this season, though Dodd admitted their opponents marshalled the likes of Ryan Seager and Jake Sinclair well throughout the contest.
“We have got goals in us and fair play you’ve got to give credit to Everton they defended very, very strongly, they got bodies behind the ball. As I explained to the lads after the game, the levels that you go up playing at, that’s what’s going to happen, teams are going to be solid and it’s up to us to break them down, and we just didn’t have the guile and the quality in and around the box to do that.
“You can‘t fault the effort of the lads, but like I said we’ve been working things over the course of the season and this week building up to the game and probably the first time this season we didn’t deal with it well.
“Of course it’s disappointing (to exit) but we’ve had a great first half of the season and the players are just as disappointed as us – we’re all evaluating could we have done this, could we have done that, but we’ll have few days to get some recoveries in and find out how we’re going to get better for next season because this is two years on the trot now where we’ve been on our home ground and we haven’t performed as well as we’ve done on Saturdays so it’s something we’ve got to work on.”