Proud U18 head coach Ash Foyle felt his side have learnt a lot from their run to the third round of the FA Youth Cup.
Foyle said their third-round defeat to Watford shows the standard City's young players need to reach every day.
He said: “I think this shows us which level we’re at, but is a reminder we need to be at that level on a daily and weekly basis.
“These are the teams we want to play against week in and week out and testing ourselves against to see if we can compete, and this shows that we can compete. We just need to make better decisions in key moments.“
Foyle believes the Academy has grown significantly in recent years, and is grateful to the efforts made to keep the youth setup going while the Imps were a non-league side.
He added: “We’ve got ourselves in a position where we are starting to be a bit more of a force in youth development football. We’ve had a bit of success in terms of getting through in rounds of football and getting players in first team squads and making debuts.
“That’s a long way to come in a short amount of time. Credit to the staff and the people around the club that kept things going when the club were out of the league.
“Only a short time ago people had to raise funds to keep the Academy going, and now we’re going toe-to-toe with clubs like Watford in the third round and looking like we can compete.”