Our U18s were involved in an action-packed 4-2 defeat away at Sheffield United on Saturday in the Professional Development League.
Despite goals from Lloyd Smith and Matty Doyle, Tom Harban’s side were beaten in an eventful South Yorkshire derby.
When asked for his overriding thoughts on the match, Harban remarked: “Miles off.
“In terms of the standards we’ve set all season, we said it was going to be a game of doing the basics right. Having to compete, make tackles, run. The lads haven’t done any of it, Sheffield United were better than us.”
The scoreline may have seemed convincing on paper, but our young Reds were in fact leading in the game in the first half. Our U18s boss still wasn’t impressed however even when his side were ahead in the match.
“Even in the game, we went one nil down and we managed to get 2-1 in front, but we were still nowhere near where we needed to be,” continued Harban.
“Fab’s (Fabio Jalo) done brilliantly for Lloyd’s goal, managed to get a turn in the box and put it across the six-yard-box, but I’m still looking at the game thinking this isn’t the team that I’m used to seeing every week.
“But they got themselves in that situation, but it’s can you get to half-time 2-1 up and then we can address and hopefully make improvements in the second half? But we’ve given a silly free-kick away right on the edge of the box, right at the end of the first half and he’s a good player, Peck, he scored a free-kick against us in the home game and he’s done it again.”
The match saw a number of bookings for both sides, including a red card for Doyle and Will Lankshear for the hosts. These dismissals and cautions are not something that Harban is too worried by.
“It’s a South Yorkshire derby, there’s a lot on it,” he discussed. “Two of the top three teams playing, I don’t think the yellow cards or anything like that are malicious.
“Doyley’s is a red card, he’s the last man, he’s had to commit to make a tackle, or he thinks he’s had to. I’m disappointed more for him because out of all the players he actually did alright.”
There was more than local bragging rights on the line in this one, with both teams coming into the clash being in the top three in the Professional Development League. Harban stressed an importance in how his team handle these sorts of occasions in the remaining league games.
“I’ve said it’s unacceptable, I don’t want to see it again,” he asserted. “These games, they’re young lads, these games, it has had a little bit of pressure on it.
“We’ve got to see if these lads can deal with playing under pressure because, ultimately, if they want to get into first team football that’s what they’re going to have to do, and I question whether they can handle the pressure at times now but it’s up to them to go out and prove me wrong now.
“We’ve got seven games left and we’re going to need seven big performances if we’re going to have a chance of wanting to finish anywhere near the top two now. They’ve got to learn to deal with pressured scenarios better than what they have done.”