Academy boss tells young Saddlers to focus on the positives...Academy boss, Neil Woods, says his team need to take the ‘positives’ from their 4-1 defeat to Coventry City which saw them knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at the Banks’s Stadium last night.
Sky Blues striker Bassala Sambou scored all four goals for the visitors, while Tobias Hayles-Docherty replied for the Saddlers with his first goal of the season.
Woods’ side trailed 3-0 at the break but got themselves back into the game in the second period and had a chance to pull it back to 3-2 when substitute Kyle King went through on goal, but the striker was denied and the visitors went on to record what looked like a comfortable victory.
And Woods was thrilled with the reaction he got from his players in the second-half: “I think with the ball we were very comfortable, played some good football and created a few chances, particularly in the second-half.
“At half-time I told them I didn’t want to see anyone with their head down. We had to stop the rot by organising them and sorting out what had been going wrong. Then we had to start playing the other way and I’m delighted with what we did.”
Woods admitted that playing Coventry was a step-up to what his team have become accustomed to, but hopes it will stand them in good stead for future FA Youth Cup assaults.
“This is a higher standard to what we play on Saturday, without wanting to be disrespectful to our league. We speak to the boys regularly about situations that can happen. They don’t necessarily happen on a Saturday, but they did tonight and we need to learn from that.” Woods was keen to praise our opponents and felt that their killer instinct in front of goal gave them the edge over his team on this occasion.
“They were crisp, they were sharp and certainly in the attacking third, they had a threat,” he said.
“They probably scored four out of six chances they had today so fair play to them.”
The Saddlers’ attention now turns to the league where they are challenging at the right end of the table.
They play host to top-of-the-table Tranmere Rovers at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday (11am kick-off) and Woods is anticipating another tough test.
“I expect to see a reaction and an improvement in the areas we didn’t do very well in tonight. That is what youth football is all about – learning to get better.”