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4 March 2023



4 March 2023

Speaking after our U21s’ unfortunate 2-1 loss to Sheffield United on Friday afternoon, Tom Harban reflected on his team’s performance against the league leaders.

Oli Shaw opened the scoring in the first half before the hosts delivered a quickfire blow late on to snatch all three points in the South Yorkshire derby.

“I’m disappointed and frustrated,” began Harban. “I think with the balance of the game and with the chances we created, especially in the first half, I’m struggling to see how we ended up losing.

“The lads were intense and aggressive with what they were doing. We were playing the ball into good areas, especially down the left where we got a lot of joy. We just missed that clinical edge and snatched at chances. But I think we defended the box excellently in the first half, as a unit and from back to front.

“We got a little bit stretched and tatty at times in the second half and I think the two goals we conceded were avoidable, but the lads need to learn that when you’re going up the levels, you need to talk to each other and communicate and most importantly be aggressive around the penalty box, because that’s where the goal is.

“When playing against the top of the league you’ve always got to expect them to react, especially after being dominated in the first half. In every game you have to find a way to get through a tough spell, and during our tough spell today we’ve conceded two goals.

“Again, it’s a similar message to most games this season, a lot of positives but a lot of things the lads need to work on.”

Despite the final scoreline, the Reds performed impressively, especially throughout the first 45 minutes.

Shaw was one of a few first team players to pick up match sharpness and opened the scoring as he pounced onto a long ball over the top, before rampaging into the box and coolly slotting past the goalkeeper.

“It’s a shame he couldn’t level it up at the end, and he’s disappointed with himself,” remarked Harban, referring to Shaw’s agonisingly close effort late in the encounter.

“Oli has come into the squad as a first team player. He’s lacked a few minutes coming into the club and he’s dropped down to get a few minutes. Today was his first 90 minutes and he worked his socks off. He understands his role for the team, and he gets into good areas where he should score goals.

“He needs to keep his head down and keep working hard and hopefully opportunities come for him in the first team.”

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