Interim Head Coach spoke to the media after a youthful Fleetwood Town side narrowly lost out to Bolton Wanderers in Round Two of the Papa John’s Trophy at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Kieran Lee’s first-half strike was the difference on the night as the young Cods fought valiantly throughout the match, almost nicking a deserved equaliser right at the death with chances falling for Chris Conn-Clarke, Cian Hayes, and Sam Bird.
Here’s what Stephen said after the game:
On the youthful lineup…
“The thinking was that we’ve got a lot of good young players at the football club, and I thought we showed that, especially in the second half tonight.
“It took the players a little while to adapt and adjust to the physicality in the first half but once we got the ball on the floor, I thought we caused them loads of problems. We probably should have scored a couple of goals in the latter stages of the game. I just said to them in there, I felt for them because I thought we deserved at least a draw in the game.
“We looked the more likely to score at the end and that was the most pleasing aspect, young lads in the ascendancy, showing good tempo with their desire and hunger to go and get that goal but, unfortunately, we never got it in the end.”
On his relationship with the players…
“I’ve worked with some of those lads for the last two or three years and they’ve got some outstanding quality. They showed it on the pitch after settling into the game, but once they felt comfortable, I thought we were the better side.
“They are in my thoughts for the game at the weekend and in the games moving forward. That’s what you want as a manager, you want as many selection headaches as you can and that’s what they’ve done to me tonight.
“A lot of the first-team players have played a lot of football recently and I thought this was the right time to give them a rest. This gave the younger lads a great chance and they responded excellently, I’m just gutted that they didn’t get anything out of the game because they deserved it.”