Considering I was lucky enough to get to see first two U-23 games I decided to write little early season review perhaps giving some much needed info to those who want to take a bit of interest in how our development squad will do this season.
So far we drew 1:1 away at Charlton (Grant) and lost 3:1 in Watford (Preston). Although we won just one point situation is not that bad as I will try to explain bit later in this review.
In both of this games we set to play 4-2-3-1.
Compared to sides we played so far it seemed to me we were more oriented to player development then winning games, so we looked to play from the back, press high for 90 minutes and to try and keep ball when pressed by opposition. Although for much of these two games we outplayed our opponents we often get punished for our mistakes, and most goals we conceded were through our own errors. We get done by simple ball when pressing high up the field, or when by losing ball deep into our half while trying to keep it under pressure. All in all, results at this level don't seem to be major priority this season.
My opinions on starting 11:
1. Joshua Render (25.9.00) Keeper who was first choice in our league winning under 18-s side last season. Looks decent from what I've seen from him so far, made some good saves and not any major mistakes. Although, it is hard to give opinion because it is such a specialist position where key element is consistency.
2. Ben Hughes (10.3.00) Right back who played much of last season on right wing, and was our top scorer as well as having loan spell in non-league where he scored his first profesional goal. At right back he did little to impress and makes me wander if much quicker Dawodu would be a better option.
3. Joe West (20.1.01) Left back who seems fairly comfortable on the ball, and posses cultured left foot capable of some top class deliveries both from open play and set-pieces. Seems better going forward then defending, and could do with bit more pace.
4. Alex Hunt © (29.5.00) Our captain and deep laying playmaker who made his first team debut last season in League Cup against Sunderland. Very small and slightly built but with good touch and passing skills, and tries to play very much in the same way that Bannan plays for the first team. He takes most of our set-pieces and at times tends to be over confident in his skills. Desperately needs to go out on loan.
5. Osaze Urhoghide (4.7.00) Central defender we brought this summer from AFC Wimbledon. Looks strong and mobile, though not very comfortable passing ball from the back, Hard to give opinion after watching him for just couple of games.
6. Isaak Rice (30.9.00) Captained our U-18's last season, and seems as a stronger performer in our fragile back-four. Composed both in his defensive duties, and on the ball. Hard to explain, but it seems that whatever he does he does with certain air of elegance.
7. Liam Shaw (12.3.01) Tall box to box midfielder who gets around fell and proved himself as a comfortable goalscorer, versatile enough to fit in our back four when needed. All this makes him remind me of Carlton Palmer, although unlike Palmer Shaw packs some neat ball skills making it hard for opponents to press him into giving ball away.
8. Liam Waldock (25.9.00) Central midfielder who plays alongside Hunt and is mainly in charge of protecting our back line. Aggressive and mobile player who likes tackle and posses good touch and vision and as such is initiator of many of our counter attacking moves.
9. Preslav Borukov (23.4.00) Our targetman and Bulgarian U-21 international. If Preslav carves professional career in the game it certainly won't be due to his silky touch and finishing ability, but to his physical built, determination and non stop running. Doesn't offer scoring potential of Bamba, but is key in how we play both with and without ball. I can't see him getting into double figures this season, but he will press opposition never giving them moment to settle on the ball and offer viable B option when we need to get ball up the pitch quickly.
1 Conor Grant (23.7.01) Irish U-19 international and top scorer for our U-18's league winning side. Player who's skill on the ball and superb control and footwork allow him to drop into gaps between midfield and attack, get others involved and create chances. Sometimes it seems almost like by magic how he comes away with the ball even in tightest of situation and under heaviest pressure. In my humble opinion brightest prospect and best player in this side.
Fraser Preston (5.3.98) Oldest and most experienced player in this side. Preston is short and stockily built winger who always looks to turn towards goal, take player on or play forward pass. Two footed and unpredictable so he can get himself out wide to put in dangerous crosses or cut inside and have pop on goal making him one of our biggest attacking threats. Just like Alex Hunt, he needs to leave and go out on loan as soon as possible
P.S. All above is just my opinion, and I hope you enjoyed reading it.