Alan Reeves was pleased with the second-half display from Wimbledon’s young players against Oxford yesterday – and he felt that the influence of senior players set a good example.
Though Wimbledon fielded the experienced trio of James Hanson, Andy Barcham, and Tom Soares, the development side also featured Under-18s Paul Osew, Reuben Collins, and Archie Procter (pictured above).
“With the young players they have to learn, but sometimes you find yourself telling them the same things all of the time," said Alan. "It was nice to have a conversation with them at half-time and for them to take it on board by doing it on the pitch. They worked more effectively in the second-half.
“Overall, it was job done. When you play these Under-23 games you never know what formation the opposition are going to play. I think it took us the first half an hour or so to get used to their 3-5-2 formation. We were trying to play balls through the middle, but they had more men in there. At half-time I addressed it and asked the players, ‘how many times have our full-backs been past our wide men?’ We needed to switch it quicker, get it to our full-backs, get overlaps, and get crosses into the box. In the second-half we did that and we got the goals in the end.
“We have a league game next week at Exeter. It’s a bit of trek and as far as we have to go, but there are games most weeks now, which will give a chance to players in my squad who are vying for new contracts, plus other players from the Under-18s. The boys that came in today performed really well. Players are always on trial, they are always being watched and assessed, whether it be in training every day, or in Under-23 matches at Merstham.
“From minute one in the second-half today, we were much better and they kept it going on a hot day. Once we got the third the opposition got a little deflated, but we needed to show good concentration levels at the back, which we did. Overall, I think we probably deserved the win because of the performance in the second-half.
Alan praised the influence of Wimbledon’s experienced players in his young squad yesterday.
“We had Barchy, Tom Soares, and James Hanson playing, but we had a lot of young lads as well. James played just 45 because he’s coming back from injury. The plan was always for him to play just one half because we have to manage him, so that he doesn’t get injured again. If the young players wanted to look up to anyone in the second-half then Barchy and Soaresy provided good examples. At the end, Soaresy was tracking back and working his socks off. He has played in the Premier League and if he can do that then so can a 17-year-old or 18-year-old player.”