Stephen Crainey was left disappointed after his Fleetwood Town development squad’s 3-2 defeat to Macclesfield.
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But despite this setback, victories over Morecambe and Huddersfield Town had secured Fleetwood’s passage to the semi-finals of the Lancashire Central Cup.
It was 1-1 at half-time in a match played at the home of Town’s League Two opponents.
Harrison Biggins nodded home a Ged Garner corner in the 12th minute but Scott Wilson levelled from the spot after Ryan Rydel was ruled to have handled on the line.
Koby Arthur’s overhead kick put the Silkmen ahead in the 49th minute but Kyle Dempsey rocketed the ball home from outside the box to pull Town level.
But Peter Vincenti had the final say, his free-kick curling past Billy Crellin to give Macclesfield the points.
Crainey said: “I thought we never really got going. We did OK in the first half.
“We kept the ball well in spells and could have done things better at the same time, but second half I told them to kick on and grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
“I don’t think we got to that point and we ended up losing the game 3-2.
“It is disappointing because in the last two games against Morecambe and Huddersfield the boys have played really well.
“I get the surface was not great but that’s still no excuse. It’s disappointing overall to lose the game.”
Striker Chris Long and defender Gethin Jones made their first appearances since the 3-1 Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Bury last month.
The duo had been training with the Under-18 squad but this outing for the U23s signalled a return to first team contention.
But Crainey wanted to hear his players turn up the volume.
He added: “They responded quite quickly and Kyle scored a great goal from outside the box.
“But then I’m thinking, ‘Go kick on and win the game’. But we did not do that for some reason.
“We will have a look back at the video to see the reasons why but overall it’s disappointing.
“Even the communication on the pitch... you could not really hear the lads.
They were not vocal enough and you need to be to give yourself a chance at any level.”