YOUTH: They'll learn lessons

Davie Irons on the Rochdale defeat

We spoke to youth coach Davie Irons following the narrow 3-2 defeat at Rochdale on Saturday morning. 

"It was a close game but the sending off did have an impact," he told us. "We started the game really well and Tom White scored a good goal. It was a decent move and it was finished off well. To be honest, I thought we were on top at that point and we were defending well as a unit. 

"We shot ourselves in the foot just before half time when James Scott got involved with their centre forward. They both fell to the ground and there was an arm movement from James towards their player. As soon as I saw it I turned around to the bench and said he'd be sent off. He was pleading his case with the referee but I think he knows himself that he gave the referee the option to send him off. Hopefully he'll learn from that. 

"That gave them a penalty, which they scored, and that totally changed the game. Unfortunately for Jack [Elliot] he was the one I had to sacrifice so we could reorganise and try to tighten things up. 

"Their second goal was poor from our point of view. You could argue that their lad did well, but he ran straight through the middle of the team and went past two or three players. We just can't afford to let people do that. 

"The third goal was another strike from the edge of the box which we didn't close down. The boys the dug in after that and they started to try and play a bit of football. We pulled one back and we had two or three good chances to get an equaliser. It just wasn't to be on the day." 

"They'll learn lessons from it," he added. "There were a few discipline issues which I want to get on top of - arguing back and silly little challenges - but, again, that comes with time.  

"There's a classic football cliché that you learn more when you have a difficult game and I think that's true in this case. Looking at how certain individuals dealt with things on Saturday was interesting and, even though I expect disappointment when they lose, they need to deal with that in the right way. 

"There are some positives to take from the game because after the sending off the lads worked hard for each other. That was pleasing to see.

"From the development side of things their game awareness needs to improve. I think I said that last week as well, but it is an important part of becoming a professional footballer. 

"Ironically they became more aware of the situation once they'd gone down to ten men because they had to think about not giving the ball away. That's probably a psychological thing because they know they're a man down and, if they do lose the ball, they'll have to work even harder to get it back." 

"We will tailor the training going forward based on the result at the weekend," he continued. "Last week we looked at two and three touch possession rather than the lads trying to dribble the ball past half of the opposition team. We've made them think about what they're going to do with the ball before they receive it and an important part of that has been convincing them that the first decision they make has to be the correct one. 

"If they hesitate on it and doubt their choice then that's when they're most likely to be tackled and lose possession. We seemed to do that better on Saturday when we went down to ten so that's something we'll talk about." 

"I'm reviewing the lads all the time and we're starting to set targets for them now," he admitted. "I've got very high hopes for four or five of them and we've got some very good younger players. Our two best performers on Saturday were first years, and that told me a lot. There's a lot of desire right through the group to do well. 

"Attitude goes a long way in this game and if their attitude towards the game, training and their life off the pitch is good then they'll give themselves a good chance of progressing. We've all seen lads with bags of talent live their lives wrong and end up out of the game. Getting that drilled into them will be a challenge but it's one I'm thoroughly enjoying so far. 

"We haven't got a game scheduled for this weekend so we're trying to organise a friendly early next week. We're taking a group up to play Celtic on Tuesday [yesterday] and that is another one for us to keep things ticking over. 

United: Brass, Thomson, Marshall, Chisholm, Scott, Wallace, Dempsey, White (Hammell), Blackburn, Hodgson, Elliot (Dickson). Subs: Eccles, Bradbury.

Goals: White, Hodgson (pen). 
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