PLYMOUTH Argyle youth boss Kevin Hodges reckons his team could have pulled off an FA Youth Cup shock at Aston Villa if they had believed in themselves more.
Argyle nearly pulled off the improbable win in their third round tie at Aston Villa on Tuesday night, going down 4-3 at Villa Park.
The Pilgrims stayed with their opponents from the Premier League club for most of the match, but eventually succumbed to a goal in the 74th minute.
Their defeat came after another colossal second round tie at Colchester, when the Pilgrims won on penalties.
Academy manager Hodges said afterwards that he thought his team had played well, despite the defeat.
Goals from Aaron Bentley, River Allen and captain Ben Purrington allowed the Pilgrims to equalise three times against their hosts, before Villa were able to finally edge ahead for good.
Hodges said: “They (Argyle) gave a good account of themselves and they really worked hard.
“As their manager, you want more and you want the boys to get into the next round.
“I thought we were well organised and we caused them problems from set-pieces.”
Hodges felt, however, his side could have pressurised Villa more.
He said: “I felt we showed them (Villa) a bit too much respect and allowed them to play to their strengths.
“We were really positive and put ourselves back in the game and I am proud of the boys.
“It wasn’t a comfortable game for Aston Villa.
“I think, though, that if we’d believed in it a little bit more and taken the game to Villa a little bit more, than we might have had a shock result here.
“But they didn’t disappoint and they can be proud of themselves and hold their heads high.”
Hodges said the defeat had been an emotional experience for some of his players.
But he said he would be interested in the response they gave to this weekend’s game.
Hodges said that the players were ‘naturally disappointed’.
He added: “It’s always mixed emotions. Naturally, there was a lot of disappointment and there were a few second-year players with watery eyes.
“For them, it was the last chance to play in the FA Youth Cup.
“On Saturday, we’ve got Bristol Rovers. It’s a real game and it (recovering from defeat) will be one of the challenges they will come up against if they become professional footballers.”