U18 reaction: Atkinson delighted with successive wins

Mark Atkinson spoke to safc.com following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool which took the Black Cats up to sixth in the Premier League.

Here’s what the under-18s boss said after his side made it back-to-back wins at the Academy of Light…

So a late winner makes it two wins in a row for you, how did you rate the team’s performance?

MA: “We showed a lot of character. It was tough for the lads physically after having our third game in seven days, which is new to us, and especially being fairly young. I thought we showed character to really dig in, I thought first-half they had a lot of the ball but I thought we controlled the game and kept them where we wanted them to play. Second-half we started slowly, one or two of us looked leggy and as if the two games were catching up to them in a short period of time but we showed real character, grit and team togetherness to steady the ship and find the winner.”

There were penalties for both sides today, what were your thoughts on those decisions?

MA: “I think they were probably a little bit soft but once someone dangles a foot, or if the goalkeeper comes out and commits himself you always give the referee a decision really. I think some days you get both of them and some days you don’t it but was one each from it in the end.”

Goalkeeper Anthony Patterson went off injured early on in the first-half, what is his injury looking like? 

MA: “He came off with a hip injury, but Jack Newman who’s an under-16 made his debut for the under-18s there coming on and I thought he was superb to be honest. His kicking was good which gave him confidence and to be chucked in at the deep end against Liverpool 15 minutes into the game and making your debut, I thought he was really good.”

You’ve beaten second and third in the Premier League with wins over Liverpool and Everton recently, how big of a confidence boost does that give the team?

MA: “It’s something we spoke about a lot when we play the big clubs. I think this season the so-called big clubs we’ve performed really well against, and up until the Manchester City game I think we had played our best football against the big clubs but we hadn’t got anything against them. All of a sudden now in the last four games we’ve beaten three of the top four sides and that’s something that the lads should be proud of.”

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