Zola reflects on cup exit

Gianfranco Zola has found positives to take from Carling Cup defeat last night although admitted it was a disappointing night at Vicarage Road.

The manager was pleased with the form of his two debutants in goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka and left-back Walter Lopez. Although Lastuvka was involved in the only goal of the game when Hayden Mullins inadvertently diverted the ball into an empty net after Lastuvka missed a clearance, Zola praised his display. "I can't say anything to him because he made a fantastic save before," he said. "It happens sometimes, we were unlucky there."

The manager also had encouraging words for the way his young players like Freddie Sears, who got his first full 90 minutes at first-team level, acquitted themselves. "Freddie has done very well," Zola said of the 18-year-old attacker who he is looking forward to working more closely with in training. "I can't be too demanding with him but I was pleased with the way he tried to play and he is going to get better. I am sure he has got a future."

Reflecting overall on the "big blow" of an early cup exit, Zola added: "It has not been a great day for us but I knew it was going to be tough. As I said to the players, this doesn't have to change our positive attitude towards the work we have been doing. It would have been too easy to hope that everything would come right straight away. Sometimes to improve you have to go through difficult moments."

Zola said: "I know but we are going to bounce back because we are going to improve ... What can I tell [the players]? I saw them, they tried their best. They couldn't do any more than that so it is worthless getting angry with them. I am going to get angry when I need to. I have to be fair, they did everything they could."