Young guns suffer penalty shootout agony
Coach Alan Connell believes his AFC Bournemouth young guns will be “better for the experience” after they exited the EFL Youth Alliance Cup at the hands of Cambridge United today.
The Cherries were eliminated 4-3 in a penalty shootout after their area semi-final on a 4G pitch at Newmarket Town’s Tristel Global Stadium had ended in stalemate.
Successful spot-kicks from Jake Adams, Euan Pollock and Matt Burgess proved in vain as Ben Greenwood and Brandon Channell both missed their penalties.
Greenwood went close to breaking the deadlock in the first half with a shot which hit the woodwork, while Pollock side-footed a good chance wide of the target after the break.
Connell fielded a much-changed team following the Cherries’ FA Youth Cup win over Cardiff City on Tuesday with some members of his squad on standby for tonight’s Premier League Cup clash at Nottingham Forest.
One major positive saw the return of influential captain Nathan Moriah-Welsh who was given a 55-minute run-out, his first taste of action since sustaining an injury in the first game of the season in August.
Connell told afcb.co.uk: “Although Cambridge made it difficult for us, I thought we played out from the back quite well. We kept a clean sheet and did well defensively.
“But once we got into their half, we didn’t have that little bit of quality that’s needed to break down stubborn opposition so that was frustrating.
“We changed formation before the game because it suited the players we had. While that may have been a contributory factor, generally, we didn’t look after the ball well enough.
“We were a little bit off what we normally are and, as a result, we didn’t have the rhythm in our passing game that we would like, especially in the opposition’s half. We didn’t do enough in forward areas.
“In terms of team selection, we were very stretched and a lot of our second years were unavailable but that’s football, especially in youth development.
“The first years will be better for the experience. Although losing a cup game was not ultimately what we wanted, they will learn from the disappointment. We need to come back in training on Monday, work hard and try to improve.”
Connell added: “As always, penalties are a bit of a lottery. Billy Terrell made one good save but we missed a couple which was a shame.
“But it’s another learning experience because penalty shootouts are a big part of first-team football these days.
“We lost on penalties to Exeter a couple of years ago when Jaidon Anthony and Gavin Kilkenny were both very upset after missing.
“I told the boys who missed today to look where they are now, especially Gav who has gone on to play for the first team and signed a new contract. He went through that disappointment a couple of years ago and it’s all part of their learning.”
The Cherries play their penultimate EFL Youth Alliance South West Division match of the season when they visit Bristol Rovers on Tuesday.
Cherries: Terrell, Roberts, Bertrand, Channell, Greenwood, Adams, Wadham, Moriah-Welsh (Torniainen, 55), Burgess, Pollock, Williams. Unused subs: Gidaree, Seddon.