Nick Haycock admitted to having mixed emotions after West Ham United's agonising FA Youth Cup fifth-round defeat at Chelsea.
The Hammers battled back to level twice and were within a minute of winning the game 3-2, only for the Blues to equalise in the 94th minute and edge the penalty shootout 5-4 to win through to the quarter-finals.
The Under-18s coach was justifiably proud of his players' efforts but understandably gutted to lose out in such heart-breaking circumstances.
"I have known the boys a long time and I'm gutted for them but I'm not gutted with them," Haycock told West Ham TV. "I said 'When you come in the changing room at the end of the game say you couldn't give any more', and they couldn't have given any more.
"In the first half we tried to get after them and press them high up the pitch with a 4-4-2 and because we were going in ones and twos and not all together, they were passing it around us and creating too many chances for our liking.
"We got them in at half-time and changed the shape of the midfield and one or two of the personnel and Lamar Hurley and Dominic Vose made a difference to the side, not only to the running of the side but also to the also the quality on the ball that they showed.
"Obviously at 3-2 up we should have won the game but we celebrated deep near their corner flag and as we were coming back in we were all screaming to them to win the first tackle and put the ball into their half.
"Unfortunately we never made contact with the ball and they hit the post and fortunately for them it has fallen to the centre-half and he's tapped it home. Losing on penalties is a lottery.
"I'm proud of the boys. At the end of the day, as much as we wanted to win the Youth Cup, I'm sure Ian Hendon will report back to the first team management that we have got players coming through the system.
"I am disappointed but ultimately that's the most important thing. The game was dead and buried and we should be in the next round, in my opinion. Chelsea bossed the first half, we bossed the second but we should have won the game."
While West Ham were eliminated, they would not have reached a penalty shootout were it not for a truly outstanding display by goalkeeper David Wootton. The regular No2 stepped in for the injured Jake Larkins and responded with a fantastic performance featuring at least four fine saves.
"All credit to him because David has had a tough time of it playing second fiddle to Jake. Fair play to David because the character he showed, knowing he is the No2, he put in a No1 performance.
"I said to the boys in the dressing room, he kept us in the game in the first half and made a great save on about 75 minutes when they got in down the left-hand channel.
"His kicking was great and in the shootout, Chelsea showed a bit of a German mentality and every penalty went in the corner or over the bar, so David couldn't do anything about them.
"He was top-drawer, to be fair to the boy."
Wednesday's game was watched by a 1,500-plus crowd at Staines Town FC, while fans were also given the opportunity to view the club's next generation through an exclusive live presentation on West Ham TV.
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