Graeme Murty and John Hewitson have delivered their thoughts after our Under-21s were beaten 2-0 by Cardiff City on Monday night.
The defeat at Eppleton came despite creating numerous chances, with the young Lads now halfway through Group H of the Premier League Cup in search of a first point ahead of hosting Wolves next week.
“The story of the night is that if you don’t take your chances, you don’t win the game,” Lead U21 Coach Murty declared.
“We conceded two goals where they’ve been really ruthless in our final third. I would say the defending was quite lacklustre and timid for the first goal, and the second goal was a wonderful free-kick.
“The Cardiff goalkeeper made some wonderful saves, and you won’t win without taking your chances. Having said that, I don’t think we deserved to lose as there were some elements where we caused problems for them.”
Assistant U21 Coach Hewitson then discussed a need for more ruthlessness going forward.
“We did create in the final third, but we tended to slow attacks down too much,” he added.
“We allowed the opposition to get back in quickly as our momentum slowed down, and we need to be more ruthless and clinical.”
The entire starting XI was rotated following the previous PL Cup outing against Wolves in Telford last week, and Murty gave his assessment on the displays of the individuals – and the collective – out on the pitch.
“I think the performances were quite varied – players showed parts of what they’re good at. Some showed they haven’t played for a while, and others showed themselves justice.
“They were all trying to do what we wanted them to do, to implement the style of play that we want, and that’s not always going to be smooth and slick if you’ve not had that opportunity to practice.
“Having said that, the fundamentals of our strength and aggression in our press need to be constant, and I thought that was quite patchy. The gaps between when we came off it and when we did it really well were too big. We need to get our lower level much higher because if we pair that with the times we do it well, then we’ll be able to deliver a consistent performance.”
Finally, Hewitson demonstrated how the U21 staff and players will respond as we look to get off the mark in the return group fixture with Wolves next Monday, again on home turf.
“For us, it’s a case of taking the positives from the game, having a really good week in training and getting back to basics.
“There have been a lot of positives in the growth and development of the team over the last month or so.
“We have to ensure we don’t get over-emotional about the result, and just keep plugging away with the things we’ve done really well.”