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Simmonds proud after resilient display at Blackpool

4 March 2024


Simmonds proud after resilient display at Blackpool

4 March 2024

Professional Development Phase Coach Ryan Simmonds is proud of how resilient the scholars are becoming and believes they are starting to change their mentality in a positive way.

Last time out, the Under 17s fell to a 2-0 defeat away at Blackpool in the area semi-final of the EFL Floodlit Cup but the scoreline doesn’t tell the full story.

The Saddlers were reduced to nine men in the first quarter of the match after Kobe Wilkes and goalkeeper Jenson Kilroy both received red cards.

Despite the disadvantage, the team rallied and even had the chance to take the lead but Charlie Wragg was unable to convert from the penalty spot.

Blackpool did make their numerical advantage count in the end but the Saddlers made life hard for the Seasiders and kept going right until the end.

Simmonds was immensely proud of the character the players showed and believes it perhaps would have been a different story had it not been for the two dismissals.

“It was a really good first 15 minutes, there were a couple of chances for either side and it was shaping up to be a really good game with two really good teams,” Simmonds explained.

“Unfortunately, Kobe gets sent off in the 17th minute and Jenson our goalkeeper gets sent off in the 22nd minute.

“Maybe they were questionable. The initial fouls are fouls but in the build up to the fouls, they’re both offside so that was our frustration.

“You can train underloads, nine v eleven, but you can’t train them for that initial period to be eleven v nine for 70 minutes. You also can’t train the moments when Dylan Thomas really showed he can be a captain and a leader because after the second red card, without any prompting from the coaching staff, he got all the lads in for a huddle. I don’t know what he said but he showed leadership skills.

“Proud is an understatement. I’m proud of the lads’ character and their tactical nous because going down to ten men is hard but nine men is even harder. The distances the lads covered, the blocks, the amount of closing down they did – it was just amazing.

“We had a chance to go 1-0 up, Charlie missed a penalty unfortunately and the crazy thing was Blackpool were wasting time eleven against nine in the last ten minutes. The boys were amazing.”

Simmonds is closing in to one year in his role and they have made good strides in the past 12 months.

While he was happy with how the players performed at Blackpool, he insists defeat is not something that will be accepted by the group but he has seen significant progress in their mentality.

“We should never be happy about losing a game and that’s what I said from day one about changing the mentality of accepting to lose, it has to stop and they are becoming more resilient,” he said.

“You can see with all the training that we’ve done for nearly a year since I’ve been here, it’s about being strong as a character and being resilient. They showed it on Wednesday night, which was fantastic.”

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