City were challenged to reach the Youth Alliance Cup final again after coming up short in last night’s showpiece at Valley Parade.

Coach Steve Thornber admitted it was a “game too far” for the young Bantams after Colchester dismantled their bid for double glory with a 4-2 win.

But with half the team made up of first-year trainees, Thornber believes the north-east region league champions are capable of repeating their cup run next season.

He said: “I reiterated to them in the dressing room not to be too down-hearted. It’s been a fantastic season.

“They’ve set their standards and it’s something we want to do again. We want to win the league and get through to the final of the cup again next year.

“There are players in the squad who are more than capable of doing that.

“We played Hull in the northern final without the likes of Olly McBurnie and Jack Stockdill, who were down with the first team. So we’ve proved we can more than match any team.

“Unfortunately this was just a game too far and I felt Colchester had a bit too much class for us.”

Sammie Szmodics was Colchester’s hat-trick hero after Macauley Bonne capitalised on a mistake to give them an early lead. McBurnie netted both for the Bantams.

Thornber added: “Olly deserved his double because he got on the end of most things.

“We knew they were a good side and we were in for a challenge.

“But I thought we were a bit naive defensively, especially with the number ten (Szmodics) who was very lively. We got done on the counter-attack quite a few times pushing forward.”

Around 3,000 watched the game – more than the crowd at Odsal on Sunday – and Thornber believes it will prove valuable experience.

“It’s fantastic for the lads. It’s not about losing the final, it’s how they progress and who’s going to come through and have careers.”