Craig Liddle

Liddle on youths' Villa test

by Kate Smith

Coach previews Saturday’s U18 action.

Craig Liddle says Sunderland’s youngsters will stick to their principles as they look to erase recent defensive mistakes.

The under-18s went down 5-2 at Southampton last time out, finding themselves 5-0 down before pulling two goals back late on.

The young Black Cats have been potent going forward all season and the Academy staff are now focusing their attention at the other end.

But Liddle says there’ll be no fingers of blame pointed, with the staff taking a nurturing approach.

“5-2 sounds like we’ve had a real good drubbing but that was far from the case. We had a large percentage of possession, on another day it could have been 7-7, it was that kind of game,” Liddle reflected.

“Defensively, we made individual errors which we were punished for, and at the other end we didn’t convert the chances we created. We can take some positives but we’re hugely disappointed to concede five and lose a game that heavily.

“The errors were basic, glaring ones that probably wouldn’t have happened on another day.

“Every time the boys made an error they were punished for it. We want to try and iron out those errors but we don’t want to batter anybody and for people to lose confidence.”

He added: “We try to play out from the back which is the way that we believe in at the academy and if we’re going to do that, at times, the boys are going to make mistakes and they’re going to be punished for it.”

“Obviously we’re making the boys aware of where they’ve gone wrong. If they do need reminding that the errors were there, we do that. We’re not over-critical though because we want them to continue to progress and enjoy their football and be confident.”

Liddle’s side face another tough challenge tomorrow when they face Aston Villa at the Academy of Light.

The under-18s notched a fine away win in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, emerging 3-2 victors back in late September.

Carl Lawson and Mikael Mandron (2) scored for a Sunderland side who were reduced to 10 men in the second half.

The youngsters produced a superb defensive display to claim three points and Liddle is hoping for more of the same this weekend.

“If I’m honest, a draw probably would have been a fair result on the day but we defended very well,” he explained.

“We threw our bodies in front of things and made some good blocks but my take on it is that Aston Villa are probably the best team we’ve played this season.

“We know it’s going to be a real test. What we’ll be looking for is that the boys bounce back from last Saturday. They need to go into the game brightly and with confidence and try to match the performance and result from back in October.”