Graeme Murty has reflected on his Under-21 team’s commanding 4-1 victory over Stoke City at Eppleton.
But it was a mixture of emotions for the Lead Coach as the Lads delivered a dominant display to bounce back from a disappointing defeat in their last match, but failed to keep a clean sheet, conceding in the last minute.
“I’m pleased with the application and effort and how all the players approached the game, and it was really good to see some of our younger players play with first-team players.
“I thought they acquitted themselves really well and I thought we were clinical at times and showed some good passages of play.
“I’m greedy so I wanted a clean sheet, I have said to the defenders in their professional careers going forward they will not get any plaudits as they are expected to get a clean sheet.
“You have got to make sure you have that personal standard even if you are ahead by four and have that bit that burns inside of you to make sure you do not concede a goal.
“Having said that I thought some of our play and how we dealt with the ball on a difficult pitch was really good,” Murty explained.
A handful of first-team players were involved in the game and Murty was delighted with their professional approach on and off the pitch.
“We are a brilliant platform for those guys but only if they approach the game properly and they did.
“I think there was some really exciting play, and the two wingers would give you nightmares to play against, their sheer pace and trickery can cause you problems throughout.
“I thought they integrated really well with lads, the really pleasing part was the respect they showed to the game and the respect they showed to the young players.
“It shows our players what it looks like if they want to make that step up,” Murty said.
Harry Gardiner’s performance received praise from his Lead Coach, who believes he is now receiving the rewards for all the hard work he is doing behind the scenes.
Gardiner has recently been nominated for PL2 February Player of the Month, and has now netted five goals in his last four outings.
“That’s good for him as he works incredibly hard for the team, and he does a lot of pressing from the front which might go unnoticed.
“We have always said if he keeps getting into the right positions, he will take those chances because goals are generally scored in and around the areas he is now getting to.
“We need to get into positions where we cross and assist from with more regularity and quality because Harry is now finding that part of his game where he is getting a reward for all of his hard work.
“We are really pleased for him, but we know there is more to come from him and there is more for him to do.
“While we celebrate what he has done, we also look at the areas he can improve. We will support him in all those areas and try and make sure he understands to become a rounded player,” The Lead Coach added.