Academy Match: Southampton v Crystal Palace
Last weekend saw me make my Youth team debut in a 4-1 win away at Southampton. I came on for the last 15 minutes – by the time I came on the game was pretty much over but it was nice to be involved in such a good victory. It seems weird to have made my Reserve team debut before my Youth team one but as the old cliché goes ‘that’s football’!
It was probably our best performance of the season so far and we went in at half time 3-0 up. Gary Issott doesn’t tend to make many changes, but with us being in quite a comfortable position I thought I may have a chance of coming on. This proved to be the case as I got my chance with us 4-1 up.
We dominated the game for 70 minutes and they never looked like they get back into the game. Southampton are renowned for having a very good Academy and have produced players like Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale in recent times. Just like any other game we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so we set up to be hard to break down and catch them on the counter.
We took our chances in the first half and kept the ball really well. In the last 20 minutes we were so comfortable that we started to switch off and not do the things that had got us in a good position. Gary warned us not to take our foot off the gas at half time and that we needed to keep going. We did manage to hold out until the end though and deserved our comfortable victory.
Being a defender on the bench is much harder than being a midfielder or a forward. Defenders only really ever come on if there’s an injury whereas you can bring on an attacking player to help you change the game and make a difference. It’s frustrating but thats the position I play and something I have to get on with.
Centre-back is an important position, if you make one mistake the ball could end up in the back of your goal. If a striker makes a mistake, he is 60 yards further up the pitch with 10 team mates behind him to help make up for the any error.
It can be very frustrating being on the bench when you believe you’re good enough to be out there playing, but still, it was good to finally make an appearance and hopefully in the run up to Christmas I can get more under my belt. In these early days it is all about learning and there is plenty of that to do.
Although I have now been back training for about eight weeks or so I still feel I am catching up with the rest of the lads fitness-wise as I missed a lot of pre-season. Once you miss most of pre-season its very hard to catch up with the rest of the boys. Calvin Andrew has been training with us for the last 2 weeks and I can fully appreciate how tired he must be feeling at the end of the day. He’s been out for 5 months and it’s always hard coming back after a long injury.
Whereas the rest of the lads have got there fitness and can focus simply on the football side of things you are still trying to gain your fitness. When you’re tired you get sloppy so it’s very tough mentally when you know what to do but your body just doesn’t enable you to do it. You’re thrown in the deep end, but you’d much rather gain your fitness through playing football then doing fitness work by yourself.