Young Reds loving the Leasing.com Trophy
Manchester United's Under-21s are thoroughly enjoying the experience of competing in the Leasing.com Trophy, according to lead coach Neil Wood.
Speaking to us after Tuesday's 1-0 victory at Lincoln City, a hard-fought triumph with a very youthful side, Wood outlined the benefits of competing against senior opposition in League One surroundings.
"We showed great resilience as it was a real tough test for the players," he said. "In the initial beginning of the game, Lincoln came out and pressed and we struggled. We needed to calm down a little bit but, then, they sat off and we had a bit of play. We needed to move the ball more effectively and play quicker to open them up.
“The first time we did that, we played through to Chongy [Tahith Chong] and scored [through James Garner] so it was just a matter of doing that more. We knew their reaction in the second half would be to maybe go more direct but we created our own downfall with sloppy mistakes and things we don't normally do.
“To give them credit, we defended ever so well and Teden [Mengi] and Di'Shon [Bernard] at the back were outstanding, while Matej [Kovar] was brilliant in goal. It was a real tough game but they coped with it.
“We've got a young team out there and they're still learning to try to compete at this kind of level. They've not played in it before, against a league team, and there are new things for them. They'll be better off for this experience as they know they didn't play as well as they could have done but, at the same time, they've not had to defend that many crosses going into the box in Under-23 games.
“They have a lot of character and confidence in their own ability and they can organise themselves and can stick to a game-plan, even when it's going against them. They don't just cave in easily, they still put up a fight and show resilience and I'm pleased with that because it shows a lot about them.”
Tuesday's 1-0 win at Lincoln followed a 2-0 victory against Rotherham United in the opening Leasing.com Trophy fixture, with a third and final group game to come on Tuesday 29 October.
“We play Doncaster in the next game and I imagine it will be tough," said Wood.
"They'll try to play with Darren Moore [in charge] up there. We're looking forward to it as they're great nights. The lads love playing in these games. This is the experience they want."
After keeping a clean sheet against Lincoln, Kovar said: "Of course, we're very proud to get a win in this tough game.
“We were prepared for it when we came out on the pitch and the boys, in every single way, were brilliant. The goal Jimmy scored helped us a lot, I think, and we settled down and dictated the tempo of the game. We did well at the end.
“I'm a goalkeeper so I think people expect that from me [making saves]. I had a bit of luck sometimes as they hit the woodwork but, anyway, we won and that's the most important thing for us.”
Largie Ramazani caused plenty of problems for the home defence and twice hit the post after the break, when attempting to seal the points.
“It wasn't an easy one, playing teams like this,” said the forward. “You learn more playing against two big centre-backs and I think we coped well.
“I think as, a team, we're strong enough to cope with the home fans and things like that. I don't think it put us down as we kept going and played our football.
“It gives you the extra boost when you're playing against big players with good experience. You want to get better to show them how good you are.”
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