Assistant manager Gav Skelton gave us his reaction to the 2-1 away win at Murray Park as the reserves went up against Rangers on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re pleased with the performance and the result,” he said. “The players will gain confidence from having won because they’ve had a couple of tough games in terms of the reserve games we’ve played.
“What you want to see is improvement and there was massive improvement in what we saw in this game. It was a good Rangers side and it’s a good pitch at a good facility. They worked us really hard and the minimum we ask for is work rate, and we got that in abundance.
“At times we showed some really good quality, and there were numerous good performances from individuals, which was really pleasing.”
“I thought the back three were excellent,” he continued. “They’ve done a lot of work together and we can see the strides they’ve taken from the Sunderland and Hartlepool performances, which left us with plenty to think about.
“They’ve done extra sessions in the afternoons and we’re starting to see the benefit of that. They had a real desire both individually and as a three to see that game out. Games like this are all about performances and fitness levels, and they’ll be tired because they’ve been pushed and pushed, but they’ll feel good about themselves because of the way they played.
“It should give them extra energy and belief in themselves, which is important, because we want them to be playing like this so that they’re giving the manager something to think about when it comes to first team selection.”
On a superb finish from Newcastle United loanee Elias Sorensen, he said: “He deserved that goal. It was a great finish, and I don’t think we should underestimate how good it was.
“It was from a very tight angle and that shows you he’s a goal scorer. We’ve seen real improvements in him, not just in training but in everything he’s doing, and he’s putting himself in front of the manager in the right way.
“Ryan [Loft] got his penalty and as a pair those lads were a real handful. He worked hard so it was pleasing to see him get his goal as well. He’d had a couple of half chances so the penalty was a bit of just reward for what he’d done.
“The good thing overall was that it wasn’t just one or two players who stood out, they did it as a group. Our young under-18 lads did everything right and, like I say, they can all take confidence from it.
“Obviously we train the way we want to play to give everybody a base, but it’s games like this where it starts to come together and where you want the players to show that they’re taking it on board and buying into what you’re asking them to do.”
With the team mirroring Saturday’s 3-5-2 formation, he commented: “We worked on it before the game and we went through how we wanted to approach it and it looked good through the 90 minutes because the players gave us the performance we asked for.
“It can be really tough for lads who aren’t in the first team, particularly if the reserve games don’t go your way, but part of football is being able to take those knocks, recover, and go again.
“The aim for all of them is to get to where they want to be – in the first team on a Saturday, and games like this certainly don’t do them any harm.”
Another big plus from the day was a return to action for midfielder Stefan Scougall, an absentee since the end of August with a troubling hamstring injury.
“It was good to see him back and motoring around the pitch again,” he said. “He’s an important player and that 45 minutes will have done him the world of good.
“He was feeling it a bit, because he had covered a lot of ground, so we decided to look after him by resting him for the second half. That’s normal, he’s just back from a month or so out of it, and he’s the kind of player who will be back up to speed very quickly.”
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