Under-18s coach Greg Crane was pleased with what he saw from his Under-18s 3-2 loss against Reading on Saturday afternoon, despite a late-change in personnel.
The U18s hosted the Royals at the Lotus Training Centre on a rainy Saturday afternoon in their 3-2 loss. The Canaries went three goals down just after the 60th minute, but two late goals from Alex Matos gave City a fighting chance to get back in the game.
Speaking on the game, Crane described the game as an exciting one to watch, even with late injury news on Ken Aboh changing the team’s formation and tactics.
“The day started off with the news that Ken [Aboh] wasn’t fit, so we had to shuffle the pack and try our two wingers up top. It was a slow start since that wasn’t what we were working on during the week.
“When it came to the game, it didn’t quite work, so we tried to tweak it to a diamond to match their shape a little bit because I thought they were getting through and picking up second balls a bit too easy.
“We changed the shape, but the second half was a cracking game to watch. It was enjoyable, Brad [Hills] was eating everything up at the back and we went a bit gung-ho, tactics and formation went out the window, but we tried everything we could to get into the game.”
Matos’ late brace was close to a hat-trick as the young forward turned the ball into the back of Reading’s net through a crowded 18-yard box, but was chalked off for an offside call, a decision Crane thinks could’ve been a bit more lenient to the young Canaries.
“I’m really not too sure on the decision to be honest. I spoke to the linesman after the game and he said one of our players poked it through and he picked out someone in an offside position who scored.
“I haven’t seen it back and in the heat of the moment I say that Alex [Matos] scores and it’s 3-3, but he’s giving the decisions. Their centre-half was sat on the ball, which is obstruction and a drop ball in the worst-case scenario.”
Saturday’s battle and near-comeback wasn’t the first time City have left everything on the pitch and is something the U18s coach says is part of the mentality the squad have ingrained in them.
“This is something I say in most interviews I do, but this effort is something we try install throughout the club, this never say die attitude. The first-team show that, they’ve shown that in previous seasons.
“The lads have got to have that mentality to try and want to be there at the end of every game and have something to play for rather than being three, four, five down.
“It’s really important that the lads understand it’s a 90-minute process firstly, but they’ve always got to be in the game, it makes it interesting!”