Crawley Town head coach Harry Kewell was encouraged by his side’s performance, despite their 3-1 defeat and exit from the Checkatrade Trophy at the hands of League One side Portsmouth.
Crawley, who knew that defeat would see their exit from group stage with one game still to go, put in a battling performance against Kenny Jackett’s side and Kewell was impressed with their attitude after going two goals down.
He said: “I’m disappointed at the result but I felt we did well in the game and did enough to come away with something.
“I thought we looked good, we passed the ball well, we looked fit and I don’t think Pompey really fazed us at all and that’s the team that won the league last year.
“We can take a lot of positives out of the game and look forward.
“What we need is hard work. We need to believe and create. If this was easy, everyone would be doing it.
“I’m trying to change the way some of them have played their whole lives. I’m proud that they are all trying to do that.”
The former Watford U23s boss, was also full of praise for midfielder Kaby Djalo, who was making his first start since August, but revealed that Dean Cox missed out through illness.
He said: “He (Djalo) was excellent. Absolutely phenomenal. He really put some thoughts in my mind, and so did Joe (McNerney). They were all good and competition is the best thing to have.
“Dean (Cox) was ill and that’s why he didn’t travel.”
However, Kewell was critical of the length of time his players took on the ball when opportunities presented themselves.
He added: “We’ve got to be able to take our chances.
“We create enough, but we can’t have three, four seconds to score, we need to shoot after half a second and that’s something that we’ve got to work on.”
Kewell was also unhappy with the way in which his side conceded the first two goals, pointing at a foul in the build-up of the second unnoticed by the officials.
“To see a centre half run through all our players is something we probably won’t see again but it’s just one of them freakish things. A lot of freakish things seem to happen to us”, he said.
“The second goal, I felt was a complete foul on us first (in the build-up).
“It’s what they see, but I see a lot of things in the way a lot of people jump and I think it’s dangerous and I think they need to start looking at the ball and not the player.
“It’s crept into the game, where players are doing little slight things and referees needs to start clamping down on it because players can be hurt from it.”