Robbo delighted with Under-18s' five-goal show

Paul Robinson, Lead Professional Development Coach

I thought today was the complete package. The boys were excellent.

Paul Robinson

Paul Robinson summed up Blues Under-18s’ 5-1 victory over Crystal Palace today as ‘the complete package’.

Blues’ Lead Professional Development Coach had overseen heavy back-to-back defeats in his first two games in charge of a relatively young Academy side comprising predominantly of first-year scholars.

But it was a very different story at the Trillion Trophy Centre, Wast Hills, this afternoon as the hosts took the game to their opponents from the first whistle.

Robinson believes that the intense work the players have put in during their early weeks as full-time footballers is now starting to bear fruit.

“I’m delighted for the boys. There’s been a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes with them, they’re a young group so we know it’s going to take time,” he said.

“In the two previous games, it was individual mistakes that have cost us – but you’re going to get that, they’re kids.

“There are nine first years in there. They’re just 16 years of age, so this is all new to them.

“It’s about being patient, trying to make them learn the game and understand it a little better – the right times to keep the ball and when to go and attack.

“I thought today was the complete package. The boys were excellent.”

Blues adopted a different formation to the one implemented during pre-season and the first two PDL 2 games, in which they came out on the wrong side of 4-0 and 4-2 scorelines against Watford and Colchester United respectively.

“We’ve played a 3-5-2 today and we looked more solid,” admitted Robinson.

“For the first 10 weeks we’ve played with a four (at the back). We’re now into another Academy cycle so we decided to go with a 3-5-2, but an attacking version, and I thought we had them on the back foot from the word go.

“We knew that the right wing-back (Marcel Oakley) and left wing-back (Daniel Djurovic) would give us that energy up and down the pitch – and they didn’t stop for 90-odd minutes.

“There were a lot of positives. These boys work extremely hard, they try and do all the right things in training and it’s paid off today.”

Blues raced into a three-goal lead at the break and survived a brief fightback from the visitors after the break – when Palace reduced the deficit – to go on and put the game firmly to bed. Robinson was encouraged by the ruthless streak shown by his players.

“We’ve told them that if you see your opponents down on their knees, finish them off – simple as that. We’re not going to feel sorry for them, we’re going to punish them. And that’s the mentality that we want in these boys.

“We also want that at the other end, we want them to defend like animals. Yes, we’ve conceded one goal today, but that’s an improvement because we have been letting four in, so I’m happy,” smiled the Blues Coach.

Adan George bagged a first-half hat-trick in the space of 22 minutes. The second-year scholar started this season with the Under-23s but dropped down a level to get game time this afternoon and it proved the perfect fillip.

“Adan has had a little up-and-down spell at the moment where he’s not had enough minutes, but we’ve seen today what qualities he’s got,” said Robbo.

“We’ve got to keep working with him. He’s still a young boy, he’s still learning the game. It’s about getting him in the right areas of the pitch – he could have had four or five today.”

Robinson is now looking for his players to maintain this standard of performance on a regular basis.

“We’ve set them challenges every week. They might have won 5-1 today, but it means nothing because after the (international) break we’re going into another game and they’ve got to be ruthless.

“We’ve got Millwall away (a week on Saturday). They’ve got to be ready to win then battle and then let our quality shine through.”