LFE Blog

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Dan Pringle - Crystal Palace

Use Your Head

24/02/10 |

On Saturday we continued our excellent form with another win, this time away to Portsmouth. We should have beaten them earlier in the season at home so we were desperate to get one over them this time.

Portsmouth are a hard working and organised side. Although they are bottom of the league, we weren’t naive enough to take the game lightly as Pompey knocked a very good Spurs side out of the FA Youth Cup earlier in the season.

We took the lead through a great bit of individual play by Wilfried Zaha who beat a few players before finishing superbly in the bottom left corner. The first goal seemed to take forever to come as we had already missed quite a few chances. At 0-0 I was thinking it could be ‘one of those days’ but thankfully the goal came and those feelings briefly passed.

It was disappointing to concede not long after but an individual error at the back cost us and our hard work was undone. They didn’t deserve a goal but it turned out to be a wake up call for us and we soon took the lead again through a scrappy goal from Sekajja. He was in the right place at the right time to bundle it over to take his goal tally to eight this season.

Zaha got another before Randall killed the game off to make it four with about 15 minutes to go. Zaha seems to be in the form of his life at the moment and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his great form has coincided with a long run in the team. Coming in for a game here and there is very difficult as you are not match sharp and not on the same wavelength as the rest of your team.

Although we scored four, it could and should have been a lot more. We had more chances but through one reason or another we didn’t take them – the pitch didn’t help much and maybe if we’d of been playing on a better surface it would of been more. The only negative that came out of the game was the poor finishing and Sellsy highlighted this after the game; we need to make sure we take our chances when we are on top in games.

It’s a sign of how far the team has come from the start of the season that we are coming away from a 4-1 win disappointed that it was only four.

As Charlie Mann was needed as cover for the first team, young Ross Fitzsimons was brought up from the under 16’s to make his Youth Team debut in goal. He looked like he had been playing with us all season and barely put a foot wrong. He commanded his area, pulled off some great saves and bossed our back four.

One of Ross’ biggest attributes I think is his distribution, and Antonio was especially pleased with him for this and told him so in the dressing room after the game. He started some great counter attacks for us with his quick thinking and all round had a very good game.

I managed to get on for the last 10 minutes which was my first appearance for the youth team since our youth cup game at home to Bristol City… yes, I can hardly remember back that far either! A few of the splinters came out and it was a nice feeling to get a run out. I came on in the holding role just in front of the back four and was just told to sit and do what I do best. I felt I brought some energy to the midfield, got stuck in and felt I used my head well…you had to be there!

Next up for us is our important game against Newcastle United in the quarter final of the FA Youth Cup. We are all looking forward to it and are excited to be playing at St James’ Park. We have done fantastically well to get this far but we aren’t ready to leave the competition just yet…No one remembers the quarter finalists of competitions and we don’t want to be forgotten.

We will begin the long journey on Wednesday morning leaving at about half nine before stopping off and training somewhere in afternoon to break up the journey, before continuing on to Newcastle. We are staying in a hotel in North Yorkshire. Niall Clark has sorted out the hotel and has told us how nice it is and how perfect it will be for the build up to the game. Preparation is everything nowadays and like last time, we will make sure ours is spot on.

We noticed the Newcastle scouts watching us in our last youth cup game at Hull, so rightfully they aren’t taking us lightly. Likewise, we have watched lots of videos on Newcastle and will be working on our tactics so by Thursday night we will be fully prepared and raring to go. Like I have previously said about Youth Cup games – we are taking it just as another game. We see Psychologists a couple of times a week and know how powerful your mind is in allowing you to acheive your potential. The occasion naturally brings that extra buzz around the training ground but we are not going to build it up and we will approach it how we have done every other game this season.

We may not have the individuals of the great youth cup team from the 70’s, but we are such a strong unit and as a team we are hard to break down.

We do not fear Newcastle one bit as we know how good we are on our day. We are a team full of pace, power and intelligence so we have no reason to be scared about the challenge ahead of us. Thousands and thousands of kids would do anything to have the opportunity to play at St James Park so will make sure we enjoy it and hopefully come away with the right result.

Newcastle; we are ready!