Stuart Findlay says he and his team-mates players are “hurting” in the wake of Newcastle United’s play-off defeat.
Peter Beardsley’s Under-23 side were beaten 2-1 by West Ham United in Tuesday night’s final at St James’s Park.
Newcastle – who finished third in the league table – had been hoping to secure promotion to Premier League 2 Division One.
Defender Findlay said: “I think we can be really proud of the way we started the game. We took the game to them. We looked dangerous, caught them on the counter a few times and started well.
“But we didn’t keep the intensity and in the second half they started to come back at us. Once they got ahead, we huffed and puffed. It was a frustrating way to finish.”
Newcastle dominated the first half after taking the lead through a Tom Heardman strike, but they couldn’t take their chances.
It’s been an up-and-down sort of season for me from me struggling to get a game for the Under-23s at the start to excelling and getting my first-team chance.Stuart Findlay
“You can always say you deserve it, but when you’re on top, it’s a golden rule that you need to take your chances,” said Findlay, who joined Newcastle last summer after leaving Celtic
“If you get another goal, or even keep it tight until half time, it’s a different game.”
Toni Martinez – who scored an FA Cup goal against Newcastle for loan club Oxford in January – netted both West Ham’s goals.
“Everybody knows his record in this league,” said Findlay. “It’s frustrating, because you feel you’ve marshalled him well and at the end of the game he’s got two goals and they’ve won 2-1.”
Findlay has had a rollercoaster first season at St James’s Park.
“It’s been an up-and-down sort of season for me from me struggling to get a game for the Under-23s at the start to excelling and getting my first-team chance,” he said.
“I’ve felt I’ve continued to do well and think I can be proud of how I’ve done.
“But, just now, as a team, we’re hurting.”