Fleetwood Town’s Under-18s played out a goalless draw against rivals Blackpool in the Youth Alliance on Sunday.
The young Cods travelled down the road to face rivals Blackpool in a Youth Alliance fixture at Myerscough College, which was bound to be a tough game for both sides on the day.
With a depleted squad due to a number of injuries, it was always going to be hard for the Under-18s, but they performed valiantly throughout to get a point.
Here’s what Under-18s Coach Simon Wiles had to say:
On the overall performance…
“I thought it was a very pleasing performance against a tough side that displayed character from every single one of our players. They had to dig deep and try to frustrate the opponents throughout the game by applying a high press and competing for every ball. The players did well, we will be using this game as a reference point for all future fixtures this season.
“I feel that in the second half, we did well in terms of defending our half as Blackpool came out of the break pressing for the opening goal. We worked hard pushing up as a team to limit the space between the units.
“On reflection, it was a good game where we showed fantastic work rate and competed all over the pitch, which pleased me. The game management was good from everyone, and it felt like a performance that we should be doing week in, week out. The younger players also showed what they are about which is only good for their development.”
On the additions to the squad…
“Luc Rees was a big addition to the squad, as Conor Eastham is currently out with a thigh strain and Rio Cragg with a concussion, so his communication from the back was a key factor in us getting a point. He also made a good save on either side of the half which topped off a good performance.
“Sam Bird and Akiel Raffie (both playing in the defence) were able to show their experience at the level as they helped organise the backline and engaged with the younger players throughout, especially in the latter stages as they made good decisions in the one-v-one battles and set a good example for Ryan Hand.
“It was great to see Josh Kearns back on the pitch after a six-week layoff with injury. He managed to make crucial interceptions, won the battles he had to make, and showed his learning as he knew when to pass and when to run with the ball which let us know he can mix up his game and be effective.”
On positive performances…
“With Ryan [Hand] playing with both Sam [Bird] and Akiel [Raffie], I feel he was able to express himself a bit more than normal as they were able to essentially coach him through certain situations, alongside Luc [Rees] in goal. He showed bravery and competed well, especially at the end of the game where he blocked efforts from the edge of the box.
“George Morrison and Billy Jones were the engines in the side as they covered so much ground in the midfield. The work they put in forced a lot of errors from the opposition purely down to the intensity of the press they were putting on them. The only thing that was missing was a bit of decision-making going forwards.
“We were able to bring two younger players off the bench late in the game as well which was good for us, and them to get the experience. Both Dom Richmond, who is an Under-16, and Liam Roberts, an Under-15, got 15-20 minutes under their belts replacing Donte [Thompson-Prempeh] and Zane Marsh.”
Town XI: Rees (GK), Bird, Raffie, Hand, Leggett, Kearns, Jones, Morrison, Marsh, Thompson-Prempeh, Arthur.