Academy Manager Reflects On Latest Result
Ciaran Donnelly says his youth players must learn to overcome formidable opposition following a frustrating 1-1 draw with Morecambe on the weekend.
The academy manager was frustrated to see his side void of ideas in their final group stage match of the Youth Alliance Cup, having previously beaten The Shrimps 5-1 earlier this season.
"We have to expect more of this. People are going to look at how we play and think about counteracting it. Morecambe set up to stop us doing what we do and did it successfully," he admitted.
"We didn't really have a Plan B and we didn't really have players willing to step up to the mark and receive the ball under pressure. Morecambe will probably be disappointed that they didn't go away as winners of the game.
"They completely frustrated us and it turned into the game that they wanted it to be, where it was slow and a battle. They out battled us."
Youth team performances this season have generally been full of attacking play, however Donnelly insists his side must be able to adapt their style from week to week.
"We've explained to the lads that we have to be able to mix it up when the time comes, not every game is going to be pretty and lovely football," he said. "Sometimes, especially as we move into the winter months, it's going to be a battle where we'll have to win and compete physically. We certainly can't expect to just turn up and play lovely football every week and not have an opposition that try and stop you doing that."
The Seasiders now face an anxious wait to discover if they'll progress to the next round of the Youth Alliance Cup, given that they finished second in their group by virtue of goal difference.
"We've not done our job of winning the group, which is what we had to do to get through. It just so happens we might scrape through as the best second placed team out of the groups and if that's the case then brilliant. If not, we have to accept that we didn't do our job of winning a very winnable group."
For the time being the focus returns to league action and getting back to the form that saw the under-18s start the campaign unbeaten in their first eight matches.
"We've had two poor performances in two weeks so it's back to the drawing board. We've got to put things right and put them right quickly.
"We've had people carrying knocks, people away and we've lost our rhythm, as happens in football. We need to get everybody back out on to the pitch so that we can work on our team play," Donnelly added.