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12 April 2023



12 April 2023

Following our U21s’ narrow defeat at Peterborough United on Tuesday afternoon, Tom Harban praised his side for their performance against a much more experienced opponent.

The young Reds fell to first half goals from Kai Corbett and Kabongo Tshimanga before Fabio Jalo pulled one back late on.

“It was a difficult game,” began Harban. “Peterborough had quite an experienced team, so it was a tough test. In spells we stood up to it and in spells we were a little bit naïve in terms of knowing the basics of the game and getting around people and competing.

“The two goals we conceded in the first half were both avoidable; we got caught in transition, so the shape of the team was a bit shaky at that point. We gave the ball away needlessly and the lads need to learn when it’s tight and they can’t get out they should just play it forward. It’s something we say a lot but it’s something they need to learn and, with the quality they had up top, we were punished.

“In the second half we had to change shape after losing our trialist, and for periods of the half we were excellent. The lads got on the ball and caused problems. We had two good opportunities from set plays and then Fabio nicked a goal. We possibly should have nicked another goal and got something out of the game, but it’s one of them; we didn’t take our chances after limiting them to very little in the second half and we’ve ended up losing the game.

“It's important that they play against experienced sides but it’s also important that they don’t shy away from it and compete as if it’s an under 21s team against another under 21s team. There were times in the game when we didn’t do that but as the game went on, we looked stronger and looked to compete more. A few of the lads looked shy and didn’t want to get about it early doors.

“It is good for them to play against more experienced players, but they need to learn from this and compete in these kind of games.”

Following the young Reds’ impressive recent form, this result against the Posh came out of the blue as our U21s struggled to find a rhythm in the first half.

There was marked improvement after the interval, and Harban is keen to keep morale high in the camp heading into the final few games of the Professional Development League campaign.

“Peterborough had a lot more quality up top than Watford did last week, and they punished us for our mistakes,” he reflected. “I thought we were excellent against Watford and didn’t make that many mistakes at all, we kept the back door shut very well last week and scored two really good goals.

“When you play against a more experienced team, it’s going to be more difficult to create chances, so at the same time we’ve got to be better with the ball and not take as many risks. You get punished a lot easier by players who are playing first team football on a regular basis, so it’s a big learning curve for the lads, but I can’t fault them for their work ethic and attitude, and they probably should have nicked something out of it.

“We’ve been on a good run, and I think the lads have been performing at a good level. There were bits where we should have been better on the basics which is something that they need to work on – passing and receiving and connecting passes and not rushing, but other than that it’s a blip in the result but again it’s another good performance against a good Peterborough team.”

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