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Academy: Under-18s mid-season report

9 January 2017

Dan Green delighted with players application in first half of the season

Exeter City’s under-18s coach Dan Green is delighted with how his team have performed during the first six months of this season.

The City youngsters find themselves top of the standings as they recommence their Youth Alliance League matches this weekend following a Christmas break. 

Dan described how happy he was with the team’s application.

“I am pleased with how the players have applied themselves, and I certainly feel they have got more to give over the course of the second half of the season,” 

Dan took charge of the under-18s following the departure of Lee Skyrme last summer. The coach quickly embraced the role, and the players at his disposal formed a quality working relationship that has led them topping the table at the turn of the year. However, Green is not one for resting on his laurels.

“I’m definitely pleased with the first six months. The first years adapted to being a scholar well, but I still wanted more from some of the performances that we have put in. 

“Despite that though I am pleased we have a chance of achieving a first or second place finish in the league.”

After picking up seven points from a possible nine at the start of the season, the Devon youngsters then suffered a dip in form when they picked up no points from the next three games. Dan admitted that was a period where his team learned some lessons.

“Losing is never enjoyable, but a defeat makes things easier to improve from. Players certainly can learn more from losses, and it removed what complacency we may have had. It made us work harder and learn more, and we got better from those defeats. But I am certainly pleased with how they bounced back from that period of games.”

After that bad run, City’s under-18s went and won five of the next six games, as well as record two wins in the FA Youth Cup. However, despite the positive results, Dan felt that was just the start in the turnaround of performances.

“I still feel we are currently on an upwards curve in terms of performances. I feel ew didn’t peak during that run of games and the performances are definitely getting better. At that point we were doing well, but we were still after more, and our last game before Christmas was perhaps one of the better performances despite suffering the defeat.”

The young Grecians have recorded a league victory since November, so Green will be hoping his side can pick up maximum points when they return to action this weekend.

“It’s been good to have a few days break over the Christmas period, but we never wanted to do another pre-season in January for the boys. When the lads have been in training over the festive period they have done outstanding, and that bodes well for the rest of the season.”

Also, during this time of reflection, Dan looked back at the many positives his team can draw inspiration from should they need it.

“I was proud of our performance at Plymouth. Coming back from 2-0 down after our run of defeats previously wasn’t necessarily beautiful, but gritty. The endeavour the boys showed in the FA Youth Cup was great too, and our possession against Newport County was decent.

“From day one, Max Smallcombe has been our standout performer. As captain, he has led by example and he handles himself very well. Archie Collins has shown a good consistency in his performances and he has added to the defensive side of his game. He is a big part of our game going forward, scoring goals, and he has proved to be a big part defensively also.

“Mitch Thomas and Harry Kite have had a good six months as first-year scholars, and for an under-16, Jack Sparkes has come in and scored goals for us which is good.”

The under-18s have just three league fixtures remaining before they get entered into one of two Merit League’s depending on their final league position. 

Should a top-half finish be achieved, they will be entered into Merit League One with the best of the South East region, as well as the other top half sides from the South West. However, Dan’s ambition is to help keep his players improving and, in turn, help build another professional footballer coming through the City academy.

“We always set our goals high, and we always want the guys to perform well on the pitch,” he said. “I wanted to get the team to a point where they know how hard they have to work as professional footballers, which in turn will put them in a good position when the time comes to offer the players professional contracts. That is the priority ahead of any result on the pitch.”

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