David Artell said he was ‘as happy as he could be in defeat’ after his Crewe Alexandra side exited the Papa John’s Trophy via a penalty shoot-out against league leaders Hull City.
Crewe had a young side out at the KCOM Stadium but Artell mixed it up with a number of senior professionals, including Chris Porter, Eddie Nolan, Perry Ng and Charlie Kirk.
The game ended 0-0 after the 90 minutes before the Tigers advanced due to their 3-2 win in the shoot-out. Dave Richards saved two penalties but saw his team-mates, Oli Finney, Regan Griffiths and Offrande Zanzala miss theirs.
Artell said after the cup defeat: “There were more good performances than the Shrewsbury one in the last group game. It was an opportunity for them and some of them showed that they are progressing nicely. It was an important game for the younger ones.
“They have come to Hull, who are top of our league and who have an incredible squad here. It didn’t matter who started, or who came on they have a lot of quality here and that is why they were in the Championship until not so long ago.
“They have good players but we stuck in there and it was important for us to learn how those younger ones coped. We couldn’t work out how to get out for a large period of that second half and I wanted to see how they stood up to it. They came through it, they didn’t concede.
“I wanted them to have that challenge, so when it came to the last 10 minutes and their legs were getting tired and their minds were going, they can use that experience going forward. If they are ever faced with that type of situation again, they can look back and say we came through that at Hull.
He added: “I am happy as you can be in defeat because of what those young players have learned from the experience.”