Back in on Monday morning and I was excited to be out on the training pitch once again which showed in the session. I was full of energy and buzzing it’s just so frustrating to not be out on the pitch.
I can liken the feeling of not taking part in training to many things but the easiest comparison to make might be to compare it with being back at school. You’re desperate to take part in PE or you’re kept in at lunch while it’s pouring down but all you really want to do is get out of that enclosed environment.
The first part of the session involved a small sided game, in which I performed pretty admirably, I think I lost the ball three times – which wasn’t at all bad given the size of the area and number of players involved! I’m not ready to be classed as a Paul Scholes or a Frank Lampard yet but nonetheless it was a decent effort!
As training evolved we moved into a bigger area and I found myself making good runs across the pitch although I was reprimanded for playing what was considered to be a safe pass when I could have been more positive.
As the play developed I had possession of the ball but failed to spot/partially ignored an overlapping team-mate and opted to play the ball square to a supporting player. We retained possession but our Coach stopped play and gave me a bit of a talking to as he felt I could have played a more progressive ball to the overlapping player.
I took on board what was said and when given a second opportunity later during the game made the pass to the overlapping player.
It’s always difficult or certainly a learning curve as a young player about making decisions to make the right choice of pass – you hear ex players on television talking about players keeping the ball – retaining possession making the opposition work but that has to be balanced with being forward thinking and attacking something my coach helped me to realise with some very clear instructions!
On the Tuesday we had the schoolboys in for training with us which allows the Club to help integrate players (who will be joining us next season as full-timers) in to the workings of the Club.
We kicked off with a round-robin tournament. The side I played in included a fair few of the schoolboys so we were outplayed a bit to start with and it’s easy to see the key differences between schoolboys and full time Apprentices.
The power, pace, strength and ability to do the simple things quicker comes when you move in to the Club as a full time player. Obviously all of this is a simple by-product of playing and training on a day to day basis but it makes such a massive difference. The best comparison that most people would liken it to would I suppose be, is the difference between non-league players and full-time pro’s.
It’s fair to say that we did not win this tournament, however we did acquit ourselves well once we’d got going and players had acclimatised.
The majority of the 2nd years were given the afternoon off but for a handful of them and all us first years it was back to training. We had a session lined up with the Assistant Manager and while initial reactions to the announcement of a second session were not entirely positive it is fair to say the session went down a treat with all participants.
As you can imagine training with the Assistant Manager meant that everyone was eager to perform well and to show what they can do while trying to express themselves. It’s an opportunity to show off your ability to someone in the club who might not get to see you train or play regularly and yet who might one day have an influence over the direction of your career.
Everyone was buzzing and wanted to express themselves so the standards were really high. The coach apologised to those who were off as he felt as if they’d missed out on a great session.
On Thursday, the majority of the lads watched a DVD related to the tactical development, however, I found myself out on the training pitch with 3 others doing a bit of shooting with Peter Beardsley!
The session looked simple enough. He’d ping a ball, you’d control it and go finish at an empty net from a certain distance away. Peter demo’d for us – piece of cake! A few efforts later and our opinions had changed – let’s just say that our first few efforts were some way off the quality that Peter had displayed earlier.
Friday saw us do some work on shape with a few of the reserve players joining us in preparation for the weekend game against Nottingham Forest. This is typically a fairly short session designed to get you to focus on instructions, patterns of play and team shape for a forthcoming fixture. It is usually fairly non-contact in that players don’t want to expend too much energy before a match or risk the possibility of picking up an injury.
Match Day: Newcastle United v Nottingham Forest
We looked shaky from the off as we were going against the wind. They took full advantage of the situation, and went one up when Jeff Henderson headed into his own net from a swirling cross.
They then went 2–0 up when they hit us on the break and their striker kid converted a near post effort. To compound matters they added a third from a penalty that I gave away!
As I was tracking a lad back into the box, their winger whipped a ball and their striker headed an effort from goal. Now he must have been stood hardly more than a few feet away and admittedly struck my arm but to say that it was intentional! Well really, and to make matters worse I received a yellow card for the alleged offence. Nothing was going our way!
After being told to ‘sort out our acts’ in no uncertain terms we came out all guns blazing second half. I’d say that the second half was pretty much a siege with Forest spending most of the half defending. I’d love to see an Opta stat on possession and territory as we must have been encamped for at least 40 of the 45 minutes.
Our first came after a great touch from Brad Inman fell in to Sammy’s (Sam Ameobi) path, and he converted from six yards.
Now on a roll it wasn’t that long until we added a second, this time I was picked out by Brad and as I crossed into the near post the ball slid straight through the Keepers legs to make it 2-3.
Now only one behind we were really pumped up and to be fair Forest did put up some strong resistance, however all the pressure told eventually as Sammy picked out Samuel Adjei who showed great composure as he fired home first time..
We created a number of chances after that but the best one fell to Jeff and he failed to convert a great free kick from paddy (Patrick McLaughlin), by heading wide.
We all joked with him at the end of the game, as he scored a beauty in his own net but failed to convert at the opposite end however I’m not sure the mood would’ve been so jovial had we not recovered that first half deficit.