Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren once again hailed his young stars who ran Everton close at The Riverside.
Boro lost 1-0 as James McFadden lobbed a late winner over Brad Jones, but the home side - featuring six teenagers at one point - dominated for much of the game and should have at least taken a draw.
"We came off and lost the game, but I would have been disappointed coming off at 0-0," McClaren told Sky Sports.
"The kids were marvellous, we made nine changes and they came up against a strong Everton team but still dominated long periods of the game.
"We were unfortunate not to score and it looked like a 0-0 and it probably would have been a fair result and the young lads would have been cheered by that - but we lacked concentration in the last minute and they are disappointed as I am, because they didn't deserve that.
"We had quite a few opportunities and there are a lot of plusses, Tony McMahon coming back, David Wheater was immense and young Adam Johnson on the left showed his true potential.
"I think we finished with eight academy players on the pitch at the end and six teenagers and that is some feat in The Premier League against a strong Everton team and to hold your own."
McClaren confirmed that he would be playing an under-strength side in their remaining three Premiership games.
"We are preparing for a final and we are using these games to give the players experience and we will do the same at Old Trafford, Bolton on Wednesday and at Fulham next Sunday," he continued.
"This is the preparation time and everything is geared towards May 10.
"Gareth Southgate is working day and night to make it, Jimmy has gone back to Holland to try and make it and we have rested Mark Viduka so hopefully by May 10 we should have a fully fit squad."