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Wiles: We showed the resilience needed to win the cup tie

12 November 2021

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Under-18s Coach Simon Wiles spoke to the club after his side beat Mansfield Town 1-0 in the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup at Highbury on Friday evening.

The young Cods fought their way through added time, with neither side managing to break the deadlock before added time when captain Will Johnson stepped up to the plate and drilled a strike home in the 113th minute, securing the side’s place in the Third Round of the competition.

Here’s what Simon had to say after the game:

On the result…

“I’m delighted with the result. The performance from start to finish showed the resilience from the First Round needed as we knew it was going to be tough. Mansfield are a hard team to come up against and I feel like we dealt with their threats well throughout the game, after the detail we drilled into the players in the week.

“It was just about waiting for one opportunity to get, and we managed to take that in extra time, so I’m absolutely thrilled for the lads. We created a couple of good chances and I’ll have to look back at the free kick as that’s a routine straight from the training ground that we like to work on, whether it was offside or not.

“It just shows that if you stay in the game and have the quality of players that we had on the pitch, you can unlock opposition teams with just one opportunity and Will Johnson did that from the set-piece in extra time.”

On individual performances…

“Will [Johnson] is a gem of a lad in the way that he holds himself as well as his conduct and he deserved his goal tonight. The professionalism he shows in his game as he goes about his business is outstanding against two physical forwards who were playing off the shoulder. He had to be physical and also dropped back in when needed and put in vital clearances.

“I’m really pleased with Connor [Eastham]. That’s his job isn’t it, to make those saves when he is called upon, and try to keep the score down. Today, he faced some really good efforts, but I was more impressed with the way he was able to hold onto the ball and with his game management at the end of the fixture.

“Dom Richmond came on against Tranmere and stretched the play and gave them a real big problem. We wanted to go with that style from the off tonight and I thought he was good. He looked after the ball well and poised a threat going forward.

“Then you look at George Morrison who played out of position as a right-sided centre half as he gave everything for the team. When called upon, he moved further up the pitch to his usual position in the midfield and the energy he brought to the game was outstanding. As an Under-16, a 15-year-old playing in this competition, he did well and had an influence on the game.”

On bringing players back into the squad…

“We are starting to get players back from injury now as you can see. Harry Clarke was able to come on again but got a knock early doors so he was limping around. Harry Wilson has only had one training session back, which is the same as Covy [Smith] and he came on for Josh Kearns’ injury, which was unfortunate.

“We thought bringing these players on at the end of the 90 minutes might give us a shout of creating because we know what those players can do, and it just shows that they need to build on their match fitness so they can continue to impact games of football.

“Harry Wilson, who came on for Josh who was having a brilliant game. We spoke about to Josh about his Tranmere performance as he was able to pick off second balls and anticipate the play, and then manage to keep the ball for us. It’s unfortunate that he took a knock to the knee so we will have to get that looked at.”


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