TOM Ince scored the one of the best goals of his career on the biggest day of life but admitted it ultimately means nothing.
The 20-year-old struck a fine volley past England international Rob Green with his weaker right foot to get Pool back into it at Wembley.
The goal would have been enough to take the contest to extra time, had West Ham not snatched victory at the death.
“It is a horrible feeling because scoring at Wembley is probably the highlight of my career but I can’t celebrate it at all,” said Ince.
“A win would have topped it off nicely but it wasn’t to be for us.
“We created good chances both first and second half. Matty Phillips had a good few chances, Stephen Dobbie had one in the second half. But on the day we weren’t able to do it, so I am bitterly disappointed.”
Ince added: “The missed chances cost us. In these type of games you have to try and finish those chances off and out the game to bed.
“West Ham are a very good side, you can see that.
“They have top quality players who play at international level – Carlton Cole, Mark Noble – top, top players on a big budget and you have to give tremendous credit to these lads in this club because we have got this far as underdogs and by staying completely under the radar.
“Start of the season we weren’t even mentioned as being a club who might make the top six.
“So to have got to Wembley and to have challenged West Ham and run them so close… we think we should be the team in the Premier League now, but unfortunately that isn’t the case and we have to deal with it.”
Ince, though, can at least be happy in the knowledge that he has had a sensational first season as a first team footballer.
Twelve months ago he was known only for being Paul Ince’s son, as he languished in the reserves at Liverpool.
A year on he has established himself as one of the finest prospects in the country.
“I’m sure when I start to get over my disappointment in the next few days and reflect, I can look back and be happy with what I’ve done this season and the strides forward I have made,” he added.
“It would have been fantastic to get the win and complete the fairytale.
“But the transformation for me from 12 months ago, from reserve team football to grabbing a goal at Wembley and being involved in this situation, is something that I never would have dreamed of in such a short space of time.
“We just have to rest up now, get over this, and look to next season and having a really good go at it.”
Ince’s goal was a hugely satisfying moment personally for the youngster who was booed and barracked throughout by West Ham fans who still haven’t forgiven his dad, Paul, for leaving for Manchester United more than 20 years ago.
“I expected that reception but it doesn’t bother me. I can’t help what has gone before me, I can only try and play well, affect a game as best I can, and hopefully prove myself that way,” said Ince.
“All I know is that my dad was proud of me playing in the game and handling the occasion.
“It was nice to get the goal but everyone just felt disappointed that we didn’t get the win.”