Andy Awford admitted his Pompey Academy side froze on the big occasion as Southampton inflicted a 7-0 FA Youth Cup hammering.
Last night, the Blues’ youngsters headed into half-time a respectable two-goals down against their Premier League hosts at St Mary’s – but a second-half hat-trick from Sam Gallagher inspired a rout.
It was tough to take for the 616 visiting Pompey followers for the third-round fixture.
Awford, whose team had previously been eight matches unbeaten in all competitions, conceded the chasm in youth set-ups was only too obvious.
But he believes Pompey’s youngsters still didn’t do their talent justice against their fiercest rivals.
‘We did our best but our players are better than that, they really are – as a group and individually,’ said Awford.
‘Once that third goal went in it was going to be how many. There was no way back – it was damage limitation.
‘I am really disappointed they (the players) have frozen on a big night, but that is a learning curve in itself.
‘Should Southampton be beating us 7-0? I’m not so sure it should be that many. But they should be beating us, that is where we are at as a club.
‘They were fantastic and I spoke to Jason Dodd, their coach, and he said that is as well as they have played in three years.
‘We couldn’t match them, we were nowhere near them.
‘We are used to playing the Southends, Crawleys and Bournemouths, and with respect to those teams and the teams in our league, it is a different level, it really is.
‘But again, that is where we are at as clubs.’