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Under-21s

Cooper - I know what they’re capable of

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Shaun Cooper expressed his delight with the bravery of his under-21 side as they secured victory in a hard fought encounter with Southend United.

The Cherries made the trip to Boots & Laces in the Central League Cup, with goals from Jordan Zemura, Jaidon Anthony, Christian Saydee and Gavin Kilkenny ensuring a 4-3 victory.

Following the game, manager Cooper gave his assessment to afcb.co.uk.

“I thought today was a really good test of our boys playing out under pressure. I thought Southend were physically strong and set up to press us high knowing we’d play out from the back.

“There were moments on the touchline where I knew we were taking risks and I could have called on to the lads to tell them to go more direct but I thought I’d let them find their way out of pressure with their development in mind.

“At times, under pressure, the quality they produced was excellent.”

The former Cherries defender was delighted with the impact of Gavin Kilkenny, who showed real quality to smash home the winner.

He said: “Gav’s was a great goal. We were under pressure, he was in a tight area and if I’d been banging the drum earlier in the game to not play out under that pressure, I don’t think they’d have taken the quick free-kick.

“He showed his quality to get out of the space, drive with the ball and hit a thunderous strike. I was really pleased for him to score such a good goal.”

The performances in the attacking third left Cooper especially pleased, telling afcb.co.uk that “We were causing real problems”.

“I thought the support runs from our wing backs were really dynamic. The pace of our attacks at times were pleasing to see.

“The learning moments for our boys will come from where and when to play out and our decision making under that type of pressure, on that type of pitch.

“Some of them they got right, some of them they didn’t and that’s the beauty of today’s game as that’s where their learning will come from."

The manager was also happy with the character his side displayed having been pegged back by a battling Southend side, Kilkenny’s strike earning the win.

He commented: “I always think when I’m watching this group of lads play, when things are in the balance, they’ll find a way to tip the balance in our favour.

"They’re resolute, they’re honest, they work hard, they work for each other and they’ve got a great team spirit and they’ve got great ability.

“Throughout the game, from minute one, when we were under pressure, I was quite calm on the touchline as I know what they’re capable of.

"Albeit their decision making was hit and miss at times today, but I always back them to get the job done eventually.”

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