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22 August 2022



22 August 2022

After seeing his team lose 3-1 to Millwall, our U18s coach Nicky Eaden shared how happy he was with the team’s attacking work but asserted that there was much room for improvement at the other end of the pitch.

A strong first half an hour gave the Reds a deserved lead against the Millwall U18s, but two quick goals and a penalty after half-time saw the London-based team claim all three points. Though the young Reds started brightly, Millwall’s game plan suffocated the Reds’ attacking play, putting them on the back foot in the second half.

“It was a decent enough start,” began Eaden. “I don’t think we deserved to come out of the game 3-1 down. The first two goals were two long punts, and the most disappointing thing is that we highlighted this before the game to the back five. We said they’ll try and turn you, try and get behind you, so any doubt just drop off and deal with it, and frustratingly we did drop off but didn’t deal with it.

“It’s two really soft goals at the end of the day. There was a bit of a miscommunication in the first one and the second one nobody really took responsibility, and then the third one is an unfortunate penalty.

“I think there’s been a bit of an acceptance, even at 2-1. We started really well but as soon as anything went against us, we just accepted it, and that’s what I didn’t like from the performance.”

The Reds dominated the game throughout the first half, even after the hosts scored two rapid fire goals against the run of play.

However, our U18s never rediscovered that intensity after the break, with the converted penalty effectively ending the tie as a contest.

“We’ve done some attacking work this week and you could see evidence of it in the game, I think we absolutely could have opened Millwall up even more with a bit more quality on the final pass,” Eaden remarked following the solid first half performance from his team.

“I think at the moment we’ve got three centre halves missing; Blandy is a midfielder in the middle of the back three. I thought he played really well in and out of possession, and for someone playing out of position he really showed what you have to do. Sometimes not everything is going to go your way in the game, but you’ve got to react to it and stick at it, take the setbacks and keep kicking on.

“Even if we have got our three strongest centre halves, at this age we still need to work hard in training, it’s repetition but it’s important.

“It’s just the basics again. A lot of clubs have gone away from that side of the game. There’s so much focus on playing it out from the back and breaking lines and stuff like that but if you can’t defend your box, goal or one on one, you’ll struggle.

“It was pleasing seeing that they’d listened and taken what we’d told them in training onboard offensively, but I think we’ll definitely have to focus on defending next week, expect a 0-0!”

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