Our U23s drew 0-0 with Swansea City on Tuesday afternoon at Oakwell in the Professional Development League.
Despite numerous chances for both sides and the Swans having the ball in the back of the net, the score remained goalless in the Anglo-Welsh affair.
U23s boss Martin Devaney was absent for the match, so Tom Harban took the reins for this one and thought that the Reds were unfortunate not to come away with all three points.
“It was a good game,” Harban affirmed. “Swansea, they’ve got a reputation, they want to play football, they want to play out from the back, they want to try and pull you into areas where they can punish you and exploit you and I think we managed it without the ball really well today.
“I thought we were aggressive all over the pitch, had really good opportunities on the press to win it and break which led to a few good opportunities for us to score goals. Then, on the flip side, with the ball I thought we picked and chose our moments to play, we played out through the back, when they wanted to go a little bit more aggressive, we mixed it up, we dropped into the front, we used the width of the pitch.
“On the whole, I’m really pleased with the performance; it’s just disappointing we couldn’t get a goal in the end just to reward what they’ve done throughout the game.”
The distinctive high-press can be seen across all age groups within the club, and is something our U23s utilised, with the visitors wanting to play a possession style of football.
“As long as we’re organised and know our triggers and know when to go, I think naturally with the aggression we play with against teams like this we’re going to get some sort of joy,” declared Harban.
“Swansea, just speaking to their coach, they had to adapt and change at half-time a little bit which I think is a compliment to what the lads we’re doing in the first half. But we do like to play against teams that get it down and pass it around the back. I think it gives us opportunities to be aggressive and win the ball back in areas where we want to be.
“We’ve got a style of play; we’ve got a way that we want to play. With the ball I think we’re a little bit more relaxed in terms of we can mix it up a little bit, we can go more into the front, or we can play out through the midfield, through the back lads.
“But it’s all about the players, their decision making, where they’re playing the football at the end of it, in terms of the set up to the opposition, how they’re going about the game, ‘are they sitting off, are they pressing us’, and I thought they played some really good stuff, our lads.”
In a performance that saw the Reds dominate large spells of the game in the sunshine on Oakwell, the only missing ingredient was a goal. Aiden Marsh and David Bremang both saw efforts well saved by the Swans ‘keeper Josh Schofield who was stubborn opposition all afternoon.
“We just need to be a little bit more tidy I think,” surmised Harban. “That end product – that final pass, that shot. The keeper’s made two or three good saves today so I can’t be too picky.
“We’ve got in good areas, we’ve had opportunities; the keeper has kept them in the game, but we have had numerous other opportunities where that last little bit of quality has let us down.
“So, it’s a work in progress across the 18s and the 23s, it’s an area we want to get better in and hopefully the lads look back at the game and pick out bits that they can improve on.”