Training at the Academy of Light

Fairweather looks back on U18s' campaign

'The players have developed well individually and as a group.'

Professional development lead coach Carlton Fairweather says the U18 side made good progress during the 2013-14 campaign.

The young Black Cats finished a comfortable sixth in the northern group of the Barclays U18 Premier League, netting 45 points from 31 games.

A number of players from the U16 squad were given game time during the season – boding well for the future.

The going was tough early on, but the side hit their stride after the opening few weeks of the season and enjoyed some impressive outings.

“I think it's been a successful season,” said the former Wimbledon man.

“We've had a young side which took a little bit of time to gel, but the players have developed well individually and as a group.

“Towards the middle and end of the season we had players involved in the under-21s, which was great.

“As a whole the season has been a good one for the players and everyone involved.”

Fairweather felt an entertaining 4-4 draw with a competitive Fulham side in early September was something of a turning point for the youngsters.

“We started winning games and stopped conceding silly goals. The team began to gel and our build-up play was excellent.

“At the beginning we scored some very good goals but let in some silly ones at times which didn't help the lads' confidence and development.

“But from the middle part of the season, we've done really well.”

November and December were both excellent months for the youngsters, who racked up six wins from seven league outings during that spell.

A 7-0 home demolition of Bolton was the most notable scoreline of that spell – though Fairweather revealed even that most handsome of victories was still a learning experience.

“To be honest, it wasn't the best we've played,” he said. “Even being 7-0 up, for 15 minutes or so on the video you'd never have known that was the scoreline.

“That was pointed out to the players, who watched the video and took on board what was said.

“They did well in the next game and realised that when you're in a winning position you can't take your foot off the gas.”

He added: “Bolton away [a 4-1 win on March 1] was probably the best performance [of the season] – we were excellent from start to finish, passed the ball really well and closed down well.”