ALAN McLoughlin was pleased with the way a youthful Swindon Town Reserves side handled the experienced pressure of Plymouth Argyle Reserves, despite losing 4-0 at Cirencester Town's Corinium Stadium this afternoon.

Argyle struck twice either side of half-time as Alex Fletcher and Alex Battle earned the visiting team a 2-0 lead before a second-half brace from Lionel Ainsworth sealed the Devon side's triumph.

The loss means Town remain bottom of the Central League South West Division while Plymouth leapfrog Bristol Rovers into second.

But a positive McLoughlin insisted his youngsters will learn greatly from the experience of playing a side that featured five first-team professionals.

He said: “Our kids were up against several lads that have played more than 100 league games in their career.

“It was an uphill struggle. We made a slow start which led to the early goal, that was down to two players not staying with the runner.

“But we enjoyed more possession than them in the first half. We had good structure, good shape and were in good positions.

“Either the final ball or our final decision cost us in scoring a goal.

“As the game went on, Argyle’s superior knowledge of where to pass the ball told.

“Our lads ran out of energy in the second half. But I’m proud of the first-half performance.

“To be honest I never expected to beat a strong Plymouth side. In the end, there are lots of positives.

“Our lads were exposed to playing against pros with experience in the league.”

McLoughlin made four changes to the side that lost out to Forest Green a week ago.

Archie Matthews started in goal while Elliot Dugan, Teoman Atik and Jacob Bancroft also lined up in a team made up entirely of teenagers.

While the U18s coach would like to mix some first-team professionals with the younger players, he admitted: “Right now, it’s not possible for us to have more professionals in the team.

“Matt (Taylor) has enough problems with injuries and doesn’t want to risk more, it’s been the same for the past four or five weeks. It’s left us exposed.

“I’d like a mixture of pros and youngsters to help them.

“We played Wimbledon earlier this year and it was a more even and competitive game over 90 minutes.

“I have no complaints over the score. But hopefully the players will be learning valuable lessons.

“We have to be pragmatic and realistic.

“Today’s game would be like our U18s playing our U15s. The younger team would have good periods, but we’d have more processes and moves that we’ve replicated thousands of times.

“I’m pleased how they approached the game, it’s just experience tells.”

The former Irish international feels his players must learn to step up physically, but that will take time.

“Some players find it difficult to engage physically with players they don’t know,” said McLoughlin.

“It took me a while as a young player to understand and develop my edge.

“Physically players must step up, they’re getting thrown into it.

“Overall I’m pleased with the performance, to a point.

“Anyone that came to watch the game would’ve been pleasantly surprised in the first half in terms of us dominating the ball.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have the experience to keep the game tighter.”