Under-23s coach David Wright was more than happy with his squad’s performance after Tuesday night’s rampant 5-0 win over Newport County in the EFL Trophy.
A hat-trick from Tyrese Omotoye, as well as goals from Matthew Dennis and Josh Martin saw the side take their most impressive win of the season so far, guaranteeing qualification to the knockout stages of the tournament.
Explaining his take on the action, Wright gave an honest assessment of the game, crediting the U21s discipline in dealing with an unfamiliar tactic throughout the match.
“We had a really good start and I think they started pinning us back, we couldn’t quite get pressure on their back three, which enabled them to get up the pitch and hitting their front early which was forcing us back.
“We managed to see that through to half-time and then they changed their formation in the second-half, which I think our boys understand a bit more.
“We don’t often play against a three at the back and if we do, generally they try and build, whereas Newport mixed it up, they tried to build but they weren’t afraid to hit the front.
“I think we were able to get more pressure higher up the pitch and set more traps, which enabled us to get up the pitch. Some of the attacking play and finishing I was really pleased with.”
One pillar of Wright’s game is the importance of bravery on the pitch, both in and out of possession. Speaking on that in this game, Wright said the team did just that and even showed a bit of their character on the field.
“Once again, that was the message on nights like this, we spoke about having courage to play our way and how we want to play and working hard and looking after each other, all those bits and pieces.
“The lads showed their personalities tonight, they needed to dig in and have a scrap. On the other side of that, they showed real quality when needed.”
With first-team members Martin and Bali Mumba linking up with the U21s for the trophy fixture, the squad had been given even more strength and depth on the night from Daniel Farke’s side.
Asked about their contribution, Wright says they gelled in with the group perfectly after just two days of training, but emphasised his credit to his regularly featuring players.
“Josh and Bali came in and fit right into this group, we’ve had two days together. They’re really, really good lads who came in and played really well.
“From one to eleven and the subs that came on, we had some good boys on there. Nelson [Khumbeni] came on and did an excellent job, Jon [Rowe] got a bit at the end.
“It’s one of those with Josh Giurgi and Ethen Vaughan, they’ve been doing really, really well and sometimes it’s a bit harsh on them for the first-team boys to come on and take their position.
“It’s great to have that strength and depth and it does keep everyone on their toes because they have to keep performing.”
As qualification to the knockout stages is confirmed with a game of the group stage remaining, Wright says he can never be completely satisfied and will always want more from his group, adding the side will come back from the international break ready to work hard again.
“It’s great, but the amount of conversations we’ve had, I’m never satisfied. I’m always striving for more and wanting the boys to do more and it’s just because I know there’s more to come, it’s an exciting group with a lot of good boys.
“Tonight we’ll really enjoy it, so they should, we’ve got the international break now, so we go off and have a few days off with a big smile on our face and come back for Stoke in Premier League 2 then look forward to the next game in this group against Cheltenham.”