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Carroll on Pompey loss, Merit League halfway point and rest of campaign


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

A 3-1 defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday marked the halfway point in the Merit League One fixture schedule for the Cherries under-18s.

Victories over Swindon Town and Cambridge United have boosted Dan Carroll’s team to six points, while those wins have been tempered by three defeats.

First, AFC Wimbledon came out on top at Canford Park Arena ahead of back-to-back away defeats against Stevenage and Portsmouth.

“The team is probably in a place that we would have expected,” the lead coach told afcb.co.uk. “We’ve done pretty well in some games and not others.

“Like against Portsmouth, we did pretty well in the first half and then we had a rocky patch, then we had to react to it.

“In some games, it’s not quite so rocky and it’s easier to navigate, and you end up playing well, then it’s a bit of a struggle in others.

“That’s where we find out more about the boys’ character, so we’re really enjoying it. Hopefully, the boys are as well.

He added: “They’re getting more minutes than they were, obviously people like Ollie Eagle and Karlos Gregory played a fair bit before.

“For the rest of them, it’s all good experience and for the young lads coming from the under-15s and under-16s, it’s really good experience for them.”

Looking ahead to the next five matches before the end of the season, Carroll laid out what he wants to see from his team come May.

Carroll explained: “We want to build relationships and improve communication, then try and go in a positive direction in and out of possession, and get better every week.”

Saturday’s fixture saw Jonny Stuttle net first for the under-18s before Pompey fought back and turned the result on its head.

Maxwell Hurst levelled the scores for the home side before a second-half double from Sam Folarin consigned Cherries to defeat.

Despite coming out on the wrong side of the scoreline, there were positives for Carroll to bring back to Dorset.

“The first half was everything we wanted out of possession,” he explained. “We pressed aggressively, we backed each other up and we got some success.

“We played relatively well with the ball in tricky conditions, too. The second half was then much harder after conceding two early goals.

“If you look at the game and you take the individual errors out, there’s nothing in it, which is what makes it good for their learning.”

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