Russell Milton on Cheltenham Town youth: Win, lose or draw it's vital lessons are always learned
IT WAS back to winning ways for the Cheltenham Town Under-18s last weekend at Hereford United.
As expected, confidence had been low following two defeats, but the best way to combat that is try and focus positively on things the lads needed to look at.
We performed admirably last Saturday, and the main focus of the past couple of weeks had been on defending and looking to keep a clean sheet.
It was a fact highlighted by manager Mark Yates, who offered the back six players a little incentive if this happened, which they duly received on the Monday.
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A slight change in formation as well allowed for us to play two strikers in Lewis Morana and Bobbie Dale, who both got on the scoresheet. That's two in two for Lewis now.
This gave us more opportunity to play in to the front, keep it there and peg Hereford back.
These two were supported just behind by Zach Jones, who played in the hole, and then Joe Hanks, Adam Powell and Harry Williams provided the supply to these.
Hanks in particular had a very good game, sometimes drifting out to the right side from a central position and also scoring the first goal from the penalty spot after Morana was brought down.
A fourth goal from impressive substitute Zack Kotwica ended a fine morning's work.
After a win it's now important to gain momentum and go on a run of games with good performances and hopefully results.
At youth level it's always important to get the balance between results, performances and player development.
Of course results and the ability to win games are important, and on our trip to Holland former England manager Steve McLaren said he tells his players always to try and find a way to win – win ugly if needs be, win well if you can.
This does need to be instilled in younger players who are on the verge of stepping into the man's game.
Player development has to be crucial too, and the understanding that youth players will make mistakes more often than seasoned pros is always at the forefront of my thinking.
But as long as they are prepared to listen, learn and take information on board then hopefully that will see significant progression.
This morning sees us take on Swindon in the League Cup hoping to avenge the defeat from two weeks previously and a quick opportunity to see whether that progression has happened.
Our FA Youth Cup opponents will be either Forest Green Rovers or Maidenhead at home, on a date to be announced soon, so your support for the lads will be much appreciated by all.