‘We were tremendous… I’m extremely proud’


Our under-21s secured their qualification for the second round of the Checkatrade Trophy with a dominant 3-1 win over Forest Green Rovers.

Freddie Ljungberg’s side shipped six goals to Cheltenham Town in their previous outing of the competition last week - but on Wednesday night they delivered an organised defensive showing coupled with fluid attacking play to secure all three points.

We spoke to Ljungberg after the final whistle - and this is what he said:

on our dominant first-half performance…
We were tremendous. I’m extremely proud of the boys. In the last two games we played really well but made a number of individual mistakes and that cost us games. Today we talked about that part of the game and needing to put that aside and play our football - and that’s what we did. They were mature, created so many chances and I don’t know where to start, I’m very happy.

on starting strong after the restart…
We talked about that a lot. We wanted to play football and be the side that’s going forward, but sometimes you have to defend well and you have to be together. That’s part of football and we did that really well today. They’re great football players and we’re trying to give them the foundations of how we want to play and they’re using that all the time.

on our defence standing strong…
They were very solid and very good and that’s what we ask of them. Up front we created so many chances and after the game we spoke and said we had eight one on one’s against their goalkeeper, so he had a great game, but we created so much.

on Saka creating both of Willock’s goals…
He has a lot of pace and he’s very young, so we try to be careful with him. He can change games and he’s very modest. He does his job well, he listens and everyday he gets better, so he’s a pleasure to work with.

on Zelalem making his return from injury…
He’s had some problems and I wanted to get him on the pitch today, but he could only play 45 minutes. That was his maximum, so hopefully nothing happens to him after the game now - and of course if you haven’t played for a long time it can be hard to match the tempo, but he did really well for the circumstances that he’s in and hopefully he’ll kick on from there.

on the tactical changes that we made following back-to-back defeats…
Tactically we changed things and played with a back three and that created some difficulties for them and it also gave us some stability at the back. It sounds bad, but when we played against Chelsea and we lost we played offensively the best football that we’ve played all year and we created so many chances, but we made mistakes and that’s we talked about this week. I told the boys to keep on playing but we have to stop the mistakes, and they did that. It was tremendous.

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