Interview

‘This will be a learning curve for our players’

Ken Gillard

Our under-18s’ FA Youth Cup journey came to a frustrating end on Saturday, as they were beaten 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion.

After Bukayo Saka’s equaliser in the 31st minute, we placed the Baggies’ defence under great pressure and looked set to book our place in the quarter-finals of the competition.  
But it wasn’t to be, as the visitors struck once more in the second half against the run of play. 

We spoke to Ken Gillard after the final whistle - and this is what he said. 

on his thoughts on the final whistle…
My main thought on the final whistle is disappointment. We’ve come up against a West From team who are very organised, got behind the ball, had a gameplay and look to play on the counter-attack. They done that twice and we haven’t been quite good enough to break them down. We created some good chances, but we were unable to find that extra goal as a result of some missed chances, poor decision making and some exceptional saves from their goalkeeper. That’s allowed them to go through into the next round, which is great for them, but very disappointing for our lads.

on whether his side created enough chances to win…
I think we certainly created enough to at least be level at the end of 90 minutes. On another day we could have scored more and won comfortably , but today it just hasn’t happened and that’s football. They’ve taken two of their three chances they had and I wish them the best of luck in the next round. They dug in and they competed really well against us, but from our point of view, I’m disappointed n the amount of chances we created and the execution of those chances as well. 

on where West Brom troubled his side…
I just thought that in the top half of the pitch they were always going to be a threat. They’ve got boys there that have played in the first team so they have some very good players in the top half of the pitch and it was always going to be the team that created the most chances and got the ball to the front players, because our front players are a threat, but unfortunately today we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net and they did twice.

on what his side can take away from the performance and the competition…
It’s a great competition. The initial thoughts of all the boys in there is extreme disappointment, but hopefully all of those lads will have long careers, so this will be a learning curve for them for FA Cup competitions that they’ll play in in the future. That’s what it’s about. It’s about developing these boys so that they can play for the under-23s regularly and ultimately into the first team. If they come into cup games again against teams that sit in, they’ve got to question how they can break them down, whether they can make better decisions in the top half and ultimately go on to win the game, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be today. We’ve still got a league campaign to carry on with, so we’ll pick the boys up on Monday and go again.