A good Tuesday night performance against the Everton U21 side saw the Blues move to the top of Group A with Villa loanee Brad Young grabbing the headlines as he netted twice – his first ever senior goals.
Speaking after the game, assistant head coach Gav Skelton said: “We obviously wanted to win the game and I thought we were in control throughout.
“If I’m being greedy I would say we wanted more goals because we created some very good chances and opportunities. To be fair to their keeper he made some really good saves, but we did feel on top through the 90 minutes and it’s always nice to win.
“The most important thing in any game you play is that you win. Results are everything, so it’s pleasing to get the victory. People expect you to win a game like this, but I watched Everton when they beat a strong Morecambe team and we knew what their strengths were.
“We gave them the respect they deserved, the preparation was right, as it is for any other game. We have things we want to hit and it’ll be interesting in terms of those targets to see how far they’ve run and sprinted.
“Apart from the first 45 seconds we looked comfortable so to win is pleasing. It was a professional performance from what was a young side for us, against a team that does well in this competition and in Premier League 2.”
Always with one eye on progression, he commented: “We’re in a good place in the group and it’ll be interesting to see how Hartlepool and Morecambe get on next week.
“It’s a tournament I want us to do well in because you want to win every game you play. Reserve games, cups, anything, you want the club to do well and, like I say, winning tonight puts us in a strong position with one game to go.
“In terms of the lads, they get game time and places are always up for grabs, so they want to go out there and put on a show. The important thing is to win, so we’re pleased we got that.
“People talk about crowds at this stage but if we get to Wembley it won’t be the second lowest. That’s the aim, we want to do well in anything, you’ve seen how serious we’ve taken reserve games, reserve cups, this is first team level and we take it very seriously.
“Any game we play is vital, and it’s always nice to come off a positive result and hopefully take that momentum into Saturday.”
And as with any fixture, it gives players the chance to either show or remind the management team that they’re ready to step up, if needed.
“We’re not hiding the fact that Saturday wasn’t good enough, and after that you want to see a response,” he told us. “It was a big opportunity for some players to show energy, passion and desire and to play the game with a bit of good quality. A number of them did that.
“We made the changes to give people the opportunity, not just for the sake of it. They get to put pressure on the people who have been playing and they’re able to put their hand up and tell us that they want a turn.
“I thought a couple did that and with Saturday coming up it means there are some decisions to be made.”
One such player to make a mark was that man Brad Young, who scored two and could easily have had at least a couple more.
“Strikers want to score goals and he’s disappointed he hasn’t scored more,” he said. “He’s told us afterwards that he thinks he should have scored with his header, or from the rebound, but he should be happy with the two he got and his overall performance.
“As a forward you’re critical of yourself and you want those chances to go in, but he’s here to score goals and he’s done that for us now.
“Whether he starts or comes on for however long as a sub, hopefully that has given him the belief he can score. It’s the hardest thing to do, score goals, that’s probably why they’re the ones at the top who get paid the most money because they do it consistently.
“It’s bound to breed confidence in him and put questions into everybody’s head. He’s a good finisher, we see that in training, and to replicate it in a game is pleasing.
“He will be full of confidence and if he can use that going forward it’ll stand him in good stead. If someone can get on a run it can be vital for us.
“The fact that the first thing he said was that he should have got more shows the type of lad he is and how hungry he is to score. It was a good night’s work for him and he’ll be pleased to get his first goals for the club under his belt.”
And defender Morgan Feeney captained the team against his old club, leading by example with some strong defending on show.
“He’ll be pleased and he’s one who is desperate for game time,” he commented. “I thought he performed well, he was a voice and he contributed to the victory, as a number of the lads did.
“We’ll watch it back and see who really put their hand up, but he was one of them. As a group they all worked hard for each other.
“They sat deep and it gave us a lot of possession. I thought we were better when we played forward quick, rather than too many passes in our half which encouraged them.
“We played some bright attacking football which we’re keen to do, get it in the final third, wide players commit players, get crosses in, play little one-twos, and I thought we did that a number of times.”
With an update on the injury which ruled forward Tristan Abrahams out of the Sutton game, he explained: “It’s probably at that stage where we don’t know if it’s good or bad yet. We’ll have to wait and see and we have our fingers crossed that he’s back sooner rather than later.”
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