Saydee and Daws on target in Exeter win
AFC Bournemouth’s under-21s produced an excellent performance away at Exeter City, running out 2-0 winners in a friendly.
Christian Saydee and Marcus Daws got the goals either side of the break in what was the first fixture for Shaun Cooper’s side since December.
Following the win, the former defender spoke with afcb.co.uk about the positives to take from the fixture and how good it felt to be back out there.
Watch the goals below!
“The boys missed playing so it was nice for them to get a game,” Cooper began.
“After the first ten minutes when the game settled down, we started to control it and some of our football was very nice.
“I thought we had a nice balance about the team today and we actually had two centre-midfielders playing centre-back which formed a good base for us to build on.
“I thought Ryan Glover stretched the line really well up top and then everyone in between that was very fluid in their movements, with their angles and they moved the ball really well.
“They combined well in tight areas and there was some really, really nice football that resulted in a good move for Christian Saydee’s goal, so we were well deserving of the lead at half-time.
“We carried on where we left off at the start of the second half, we played some good football and overall I think it could’ve been a lot more than 2-0. There was some really good stuff.”
Cooper was quick to praise the impact of his usual centre-back pairing and expanded on the influence of Luke Nippard and George Hunt, who kept a clean sheet at the heart of the defence despite both playing out of position and partnering each other for the first time.
“The pleasing thing with our makeshift back four was that we had a lot of wide free-kicks and crosses to deal with and the lads stood up to them very well.
“Exeter were quite direct right from the start so, for those two, it didn’t take them long to get in tune with the game and form a relationship.
“They’ve never played together at centre-back, but I thought they got to grips with it well. They used their football intelligence to work out what they needed to do and then between them they fed the ball into midfield which was the platform for all our good passages of play.
“It was also nice to get a clean sheet and I was pleased for Cameron Plain in goal.”
With the friendly being the first fixture of 2021 for the young side, Cooper claimed that the break had given certain members of his squad an opportunity to rest and recover from ongoing niggles, none more so than Keelan O’Connell who has been hit hard on the injury front this season.
“It was good to have Keelan back from injury and I thought he looked really bright as he usually does.
“He came off at half-time but came through fine. It was his first game for a while and he’s been training for a few weeks but we haven’t had a game so it was nice for him to get a run out. He looked like he hadn’t been away!
“Marcus Daws then came on for him at the start of the second half and he did really well. He worked really hard and deserved the goal that he got.”
However, it wasn’t just individuals who benefited from the break in fixtures, with the squad in general able to develop on the training ground and finally put their work into practice.
“It has given us time to work on a few things during training,” continued Cooper.
“It was good to see a lot of that come out, but the boys have been anxious to play matches. It’s what they love to do and you could see they were up for it right from the off.
“They really enjoyed it and I really enjoyed watching it, so hopefully with any upcoming games we can go and produce more of the same.”