Following our U18s’ 2-0 victory against Cardiff City in the Professional Development League on Saturday, Tom Harban spoke of how his side needed to adapt to conditions to claim all three points.
Two goals from the spot courtesy of Theo Chapman saw the young Reds see off our Welsh visitors, despite not being at our best according to Tom Harban.
“We got into good areas quite a few times, particularly in the first half,” discussed Harban. “But the way we were passing the ball, controlling the ball, it was bitty.
“The pitch didn’t lend itself to play attractive football at times, so we’re asking the players to make good decisions on the ball, and I think at times they weren’t the right decisions. The first goal, we’ve worked on it – Chappers making runs in behind, it’s a great ball from Hayden.
“But I think comfort-wise, I don’t think they really offered much of a threat if I’m honest. They got into the final third a few times but no real danger coming into the box. The lads defended the box well, but between the boxes I don’t think we were good enough.”
The pitch posed a different challenge for our U18s, with the team having to adapt away from their usual quick passing and adopt a more direct approach. This will test and improve our young Reds’ intelligence, however, says Harban.
“We’ve got to have willing runners to get in behind,” he continued. “The goal is at the other end of the pitch, so we’ve got to try and get there in a different way.
“We wanted to play through the diamond in the midfield today, but at times it just wasn’t on to do so, or we weren’t looking after the weight of pass, so we’ve got to find a different way.
“I said to the lads, you have to find a way to win the game now. So, that’s where we’re looking for a little bit more intelligence in terms of the decision making and execution of what they’re doing.
“Like I said, the first penalty comes from exactly that, Theo making a great run and Hayden picking him out with a great pass gets us in behind and I think if we’d have done that on more occasions then we’d have had a bit more joy.”
Win or lose, a trip to Italy followed for our U18s after this one, but Harban stressed in his pre-match thoughts that it would be important to go into the camp off the back of a win.
With a victory under the belt, it’s now a case of enjoying it, says our boss.
“I just want the lads to come and enjoy it now,” smiled Harban. “We wanted to go into it with a win and it’s going to be a good experience.
“Going and experiencing a different culture, seeing different styles in terms of teams, how they train, how they play sometimes, but overall I want them to come back, they have a good togetherness anyway, but I want them to come back and have a real positive togetherness along with the U16s that are coming with us and take that into the last two games of the season when we get back.”