Following our U18s impressive 2-1 victory away to Charlton Athletic on Saturday afternoon, Tom Harban spoke of his pride in his side’s performance in the capital.
Second half goals from Mylan Benjamin and Theo Chapman helped overcome an early strike from Jason Adigun for the hosts, securing back-to-back wins for our young Reds in the Professional Development League, a win that was thoroughly deserved according to our U18s boss.
“I’m really pleased,” beamed Harban. “We had the little setback of going 1-0 down but, on the whole, I thought we were the better side throughout the game.
“I thought we controlled large periods of it, I thought the lads without the ball were excellent, caused Charlton problems and we created really good opportunities. We’ve hit the bar, we’ve hit the post, Josiah’s had one flashed across the six-yard-box which if he gets a bit of contact on it’s a goal, so overall I can’t be anything but really pleased.”
The mentality of our young Reds was tested in London, coming close numerous times in the game but struggling to find a goal to draw back level for large parts of the second half.
However, our U18s boss stressed that this determination has been present throughout the whole season.
“I think the group, as a whole, all season they’ve just kept going and kept going in games,” he continued. “Even though we’ve had games like Hull City the other week where we lose 1-0, we’re the better team by far and the lads just kept going until the end creating chances, we’ve just got to have games where we’re hoping we take one or two like we did against Charlton.
“They’re a never say die group. It takes a lot to keep them down.”
Benjamin was introduced to the fray by Harban just after the hour mark due to a knock for Fabio Jalo, and it was the former who pegged the Addicks back with his powerful drive from the edge of the area.
“He’s not had a lot of minutes, Mylan, this season for one reason or another, you know Fabio’s been in there and done really well,” discussed our Head Coach. “He got injured unfortunately, hopefully it’s not too serious. I just said to Mylan you need to go on and run about, and if you get a bit of space, you can produce a bit of magic, go and win the game for us.
“He’s got us back in the game; it’s a great finish. It broke out to him and the technique he’s used, right in the bottom corner, that’s what he’s got, but we keep saying to him we need to see it more often.”
Chapman then went on to win the match for the Reds, after he dispossessed a Charlton defender high up and slid home calmly past the home keeper Henry Molyneux.
“I’m buzzing for Theo,” insisted Harban
“He came into the side a while ago – he’s been excellent since he came in. If he’s honest with himself he probably should have four or five goals, that’s his second of the season now. But again, it’s the intensity from the top end of the pitch to win the ball back high and he’s shown great composure to nick it and sort his touch out, and it’s a great finish by him.”
Our hosts on Saturday won their respective Southern division with six games to play, so this victory in the Addicks’ own backyard is no mean feat, and our U18s boss believes this can provide a great source of confidence going into the final remaining crunch matches of the season.
“I think they’ve just got to kick on,” he stated. “We came down here and gave a really good account of ourselves. Last time we were unfortunate not to come away with anything and getting beat. We’ve just got to use it as a springboard now hopefully.
“We’ve had good results against Coventry and we took the foot off the gas a little bit. It can’t be the same thing now; we’ve got three games left and they’ve got to go and approach them in the same way every game.
“We can’t take the foot off the gas and really they need to win all three games and give themselves a chance because it’s down to other teams to keep winning and as long as we’re doing our job that’s all we can ask.”