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Connell - The lads showed an abundance of character

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Alan Connell was delighted with the fortitude of his under-18s side as they came from three goals down to beat Southampton in a friendly.

Seemingly out of the fixture at Saints' Staplewood training ground, three goals in five minutes just past the hour mark quickly brought the Cherries level.

Marcus Daws then pounced to score the winner against his former academy side and top off an excellent 30-minute turnaround against category one opposition.

After the match manager Alan Connell offered his reaction to afcb.co.uk as he looked back and analysed a thrilling encounter. 

He said: "We started the game very sloppily, both with and without the ball, and in any game of football if you do that you're going to struggle. Southampton have a lot of quality and they showed that to go two goals up.

"It probably took us about 25 minutes to get into our flow in the game but once we did that we were more on the front foot which is what I wanted from the start.

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Southampton U18s 3-4 AFC Bournemouth U18s

"We had a big second half in front of us and the boys showed more intensity, more aggression and if we do that with the quality we've got against any opposition, even category one like Southampton today, we can impress against anyone.

"What pleased me even more from a development point of view was that we conceded straight after half time. To go 3-0 down, then we were really in a difficult situation, what did we have?

"I thought the lads showed an abundance of character and quality to produce an excellent second-half performance and show that resolve to score some excellent team and individual goals."

The Cherries next travel to Swindon Town on Saturday knowing that a win may well seal the Merit League title for his side.

Connell expanded: "Now's the business end of the season and that was the challenge we talked about after the game on Saturday.

"Today we were against high-quality opposition where we wanted to test ourselves, so when we play these games we have to showcase ourselves both individually and collectively as best we can at a level I think we could compete at on a more regular basis.

"Now we've got the game on Saturday against Swindon where if we win that we've got a chance to win the Merit League. If we're preparing these players for careers then May is the time when the situations for winning and losing are really important.

"For me winning isn't important, but preparing these players for a first team is a big part of my job."

Connell picked out the performances of three of his players in helping the side return to Dorset with an impressive result, starting with Nathan Moriah-Welsh, who was one of four under-21s players to turn out for the side in the friendly.

"Nathan played for us in a recent friendly and he was an outstanding leader for us today, he showed the range of qualities he has," he said.

"Jake Adams produced what we know he can, he can producer something out of nothing as we saw with his free-kick.

"In the second half I could pick out every single player, Ferdi Okoh played in a different position today and showed leadership and quality for a first-year scholar.

"It was a really good day with lots of things to learn, it wasn't all perfect and there were lots of things that could have been done better, but I'm delighted overall."

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