Sunderland under-18s coach Paul Bryson was left cursing a Jekyll and Hyde performance as his side exited the FA Youth Cup following a 4-1 third round defeat at Everton.
The Black Cats went into half-time at Goodison Park two goals down as Ellis Simms and Korede Adedoyin’s efforts put the Toffees in the driving seat.
A resurgent second-half performance saw Sunderland create a host of opportunities, with Ryan Gooch converting one 15 minutes after the restart to halve the deficit.
As the Lads pushed forward in search of an equaliser however, Everton struck twice through Anthony Gordon and Simms to send the Toffees through.
“After the second half display, I thought the scoreline was a little bit harsh,” said Bryson.
“I was really disappointed with the first-half performance - I didn’t think we turned up, we didn’t really put a mark on them and just let it pass us by.
“Second half I thought we were much better, we had a higher intensity, got in their faces and forced them into mistakes.
“We scored one and then could have had one or two others but our finishing was poor, then we’ve got caught trying to get back into the game.”
The Black Cats host Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League Cup next Saturday, in a game where Bryson hopes his side can learn from today’s defeat.
“We were more than a match for them, but ultimately it’s what happens in both boxes that counts,” he continued.
“The lads are conceding soft goals and we’ve got to get rid of that, we’ve got to be tougher.
“We gave some poor goals away and missed chances at the other end, but we’ll take loads of positives out of the second half going into next week’s game.”