Atay: We Know We Can Perform Better Than That
Saturday, 16th Nov 2019 19:20 by Liam Young
Ipswich Town’s U18s manager Adem Atay was relieved his team had progressed to the third round of the FA Youth Cup but couldn’t hide his disappointment at a poor second-half performance.
The young Tractor Boys knocked out Exeter City 2-1 at Portman Road and were looking very comfortable thanks to first-half goals from Connor O’Reilly and Colin Oppong.
But a goal from Exeter captain Louis Morison and two fine saves from stopper Jake Alley meant that it was a more uncomfortable afternoon than he may have anticipated.
Atay commented: “The dressing is a little bit flat right now because they know they can perform better than that.
“Exeter brought a different challenge in the second half so credit to them, but we felt we were a bit naive in our style and decision-making.”
Town were indebted to goalkeeper Alley, who made two tremendous saves at key moments in the second period when Exeter sensed a way back into the contest.
The manager was full of praise for his keeper but also frustrated that his side hadn’t taken chances which could have killed the game.
He said: “Jake has made two fantastic saves to keep us in the game as we were on the back foot.
“If Tyreece’s thunderbolt shot goes in at 3-0, it makes it a different game. It didn’t so the lads had a new experience and two contrasting halves, but it is all about learning and those individuals who learn the quickest will progress in their journey.”
Atay, a former academy player himself, sees the Youth Cup as a very important stepping stone in the players’ development at a club that is giving young players a chance to play in the first team, 16-year-olds Liam Gibbs - who played the full 90 minutes this afternoon - and Tawanda Chirewa having made substitute appearances in the first team’s Leasing.com Trophy defeat at Colchester in midweek.
He said: “These types of games in stadiums have different challenges playing Cardiff, Exeter and King’s Lynn, they give different experiences that can only be positive for the boys in their development.”
He added: "Over the years we have continuously seen players come through the academy into the first team.
"The gaffer is putting players through if they deserve it we have stable players from the academy like Flynn [Downes], Andre [Dozzell], Luke Woolfenden and Myles [Kenlock].
"Behind the scenes we are all trying to work as hard as we can but at the end of the day it is all down to the players to earn the right. It's a positive and long may it continue."
Town won this competition back in 2005 with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Southampton and Atay was asked about his team’s chances this year.
He said: “I don’t want to use the cliché that we take every game as it comes but the boys want to do well and go as far as we can.
“The competition is there for us to be exposed to different teams and environments. If the boys are on point with their learning, they are match for anybody but ultimately it is about getting into the first team.”
Town’s reward is a place in the third round, where they will face a tricky away match at fellow league team Cardiff City next month.
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