Mehmet Ali was delighted with the spirit his team showed to come from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 against Manchester City on Friday night.
We ended up drawing the game 3-3 in Premier League 2, but Mehmet was keen to pick the positives from a topsy-turvy game at Meadow Park.
"It was a rollercoaster," he said. "I'm really proud of the boys, I thought both sides had depleted squads and we weren't our usual 21s side, same as them, but I thought two young teams went toe-to-toe and it could've gone either way, but I'm really proud of our boys.
"From 2-0 down, to bring it back to 2-2 and then go 3-2 up, you'd like us to then see the game out with five minutes to go, but credit to Man City, they're a very good side. They kept going and got an equaliser, but I thought some of our senior lads really stepped up this evening and a good shock to the system for some of our younger lads to see what the levels like at 21s football. A very high level game from two good sides."
Amario Cozier-Duberry was twice on the scoresheet to complete the comeback from 2-0 down, and Mehmet is encouraged by the season our young forward is having so far.
"Very pleased with him," he said. "Amario had a lot of joy and success last season, but the expectations change as you get older. He was the young one playing up whereas now there's a lot of weight on his shoulders. He found that difficult in the early part of the season but I feel like he's really grown and improved as the season's gone on and we're beginning to see the form that he's capable of."
Amario's second goal wouldn't have happened without the awareness of Reuell Walters to make a good interception high up the pitch, and it was when we were willing to show that bravery that we got our rewards, Mehmet said.
"I just said to the lads in there when we were front foot and brave and went for our opponents, that's when we got a lot of joy and success," he explained. "We had other opportunities that we could've scored from because we know Man City love to look after the ball and do well with that, but when the times are right and we press and we won it and were brave, we got rewards from that. I'd like us to have done that more often but of course it's not easy against a good Man City side."
Next up, Mehmet's Under-19s take on Sevilla in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday, before the Under-21s return to EFL Trophy against Reading on Tuesday, November 14.
"Lots of football to play," he said. "We're really looking forward to the game on Wednesday. Results haven't gone our way but we've been in very tight games and again it could've gone either way. At that level it's very small margins. To play against Reading at the Select Car Leasing Stadium will be exciting for our boys, another opportunity for them to enhance their reputations and progress to the next stages of the tournament."
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