Academy Manager assesses our first game of 2015...ACADEMY Manager, Neil Woods, believed his side ‘played as good as we have all season’ during the second-half of the defeat to Oldham Athletic at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday.
The youth team were beaten 2-1 by The Latics as we lost our second successive Football League Youth Alliance North-West Division match after the loss to Blackpool at the end of 2014.
But Woods was full of praise for his side after a terrific second-half display saw Levi Rowley level matters after Jack Touhy had given our visitors a first-half lead, only for Lee Knight to snatch victory for the visitors with three minutes remaining.
“We’ve played them twice before this season and they have beaten us twice, they are a really good side," said Woods. "They are well-organised and very well coached, but in the second-half I thought we played as good as we have all season bearing in mind the quality of the opposition.”
One particular aspect of the performance that pleased Woods was the togetherness shown by the team after going a goal down at the end of the first-half.
“We’ve talked about sticking together and getting a reaction when we go a goal down and they did that today," he went on. "I wasn’t disappointed with our first-half performance, but in the second we stuck together and played some really good football."
And like everyone else in attendance, Woods felt that once Levi Rowley equalised, it would be The Saddlers who would go on to win the match.
“I think we were definitely in the ascendency,” he admitted. “It’s weird at times when you get a goal like that, it can sometimes boost the team that isn’t on top because they have gone from trying to hold on to having to score again.
“If we had been able to get on the ball and dominate it for the first five minutes after we scored then the result could have been different. A draw would probably have been a fair result so I’m just really disappointed for the players.
“It’s always disappointing when you get back into the game and the opposition score with two or three minutes to go.”
Woods is eager for his team to build on this performance and wants to see his players start taking their chances when they are on top during matches.
“We’ve lost two games on the trot now against two decent sides and in spells we have played very well. We need to control the game for larger periods.
"But credit to Oldham, they worked hard, pressed us and stopped us playing.
“We’ve only scored once in the last two games so we need to start taking a higher percentage of the chances that we are creating.”
Woods’ side will be looking to return to winning ways when we travel to Burnley next Saturday (11am Kick-off).
By ALEX DICKEN