|Crawley Town 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Papa John's Trophy
Tuesday, 10th November 2020 Kick-off 19:00
Lambert Proud of Young Team
Tuesday, 10th Nov 2020 22:33
Town boss Paul Lambert was proud of his young team’s performance despite the Blues having fallen to a 2-0 Papa John’s Trophy defeat to Crawley at the Broadfield Stadium.
Brian Galach netted a goal in each half for the League Two side to put Town out of the competition at the group stage.
Lambert gave debuts to Dylan Crowe and Levi Andoh from the start, while Tommy Smith, Allan Viral, Zanda Siziba and Ross Crane their full Blues bows and 16-year-old Jack Manly and Zak Brown also made their first senior appearances from the bench.
“I really enjoyed that, I really, really enjoyed the game,” Lambert said. “I enjoyed their movement, I enjoyed the way they played. We were so good with the ball, there were some really good performances. I’m really proud of them.
“I just said to them in there, I just asked them their ages, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. The way they played was fantastic.”
He says the performance bodes well for the future of the club: “That is the secret. I keep hearing a lot of things, people saying results, results, results. But you’ve got to see beyond that at times and the protection of the club and the longevity of it. Hopefully it saves the club some money.
“There are some really good players there, really good, it’s just developing them. We only worked with the kids yesterday and, honestly, I thought we were great.
“We took the ball every time, they played through the middle, they went up to the front, they made things happen, they had a lot of the ball.
“The thing that beat us was a bit of physicality, which is fine. But performance-wise, really good.”
He added: “The first goal was against the run of play. We’d all the game, we’d dominated the ball. Performance-wise, as I said before, we had kids in there, some of them can’t get a game with the U18s.
“Wee Jack Manly for example is 16, the young kid’s come in and done great. I thought he did really well when he came on.
“All the other guys, I could go through them all, Zanda Siziba in the middle of the pitch, dear oh dear, that was top class.
“Right from the off [he was top class], I think the first pass he gave away was right at the death, a first class performance.
“Really pleased with how we played. That’s not an easy way to play but they took to it, we worked with them yesterday and I’m really proud of them.”
Lambert felt his team presented more of a threat in the second half: “We did, we forced it but they were tiring. When you’ve moved the ball as quickly as that teams get tired and it’s hard for them to keep that up so I knew we’d start to get in behind, it was a matter of wearing them down and I’m pretty sure if you ask their lads that was a shift.”
The Blues boss says most of tonight’s team have done little training alongside the senior players.
“Jack’s in bed by five!” he joked. “He’s the second-youngest player you say? I first saw him train with the kids last year or the year before and I saw this little kid and I thought he looked a decent little footballer.
“I was actually going to play him at Colchester last year but he was injured or unwell and Tawanda Chirewa came in at that time. So I knew a bit about him because I’d seen him at night.
“It just having the bravery to play them. As I said before, I needed a manager myself to do that and throw me in at that time. And he was great.
“Zanda in the middle of the pitch, Gibbo [Liam Gibbs], really good, Allan Viral, really good. Honestly, I’m really, really happy with how we played.”
Asked whether he was disappointed to go out of the competition, he reflected: “Disappointed to lose but the bigger picture is that if I can see by everything, which I do, I’ve got to see by things that are happening. If I see kids playing like that, the future of the club could be really, really good.”
He is disappointed that the youngsters won’t get any more games in the tournament this season.
“Aye, that’s it,” he said. “And the other thing is, we’ve got so many injuries back home. An unbelievably small group trained this morning, a small group need to train tomorrow.
“We can’t take a risk with anybody. We’ve got three games in a week coming up. We’re playing really well and I need to try and get them back to full fitness.”
Town now have a rare weekend and midweek off before they face Shrewsbury at Portman Road a week on Saturday allowing the players a much needed rest.
“I think they need it,” he said. “Listen, I hear every manager on TV talking about the injuries they’re getting. They’re in the same boat. It’s a tough schedule. We’re the same, we’re getting knocks and injuries and things like that, so we have to be really careful.
“There were a lot of eyebrows raised when I named the team, but I knew in the back of my mind how they’d perform for me. Brilliant, it’s my responsibility and they’ve been great.”
Asked whether it was senior players who raised their eyebrows regarding the selection, he said: “No, no the first team guys were great, because they were carrying knocks. What I meant was people saying ‘Hang on, that team’s a bit young’, people getting frightened we were coming here and we’d get beaten by six, seven or eight.
“But I knew it wouldn’t happen because I had the feeling, the feeling was good, that the guys would give me everything.
“The way they played, the movement, the rotation, the passing the ball, the speed of the ball, 17-year-olds, 16-year-olds, 18, year-olds.”
Town were again unfortunate with a refereeing decision or two with Crawley appearing to have escaped what looked a penalty when a cross struck a player on the arm in the area.
Asked what he thought of the official, Sam Purkiss from London, Lambert laughed ruefully and moved on to the decisions which frustrated the Blues against Portsmouth on Saturday.
“I spoke to Mike Jones over the weekend and I didn’t even need to say anything,” he said. “Mike had seen the decision, the offside goal and he just apologised. That’s the way it goes.”
Town will be fined £5,000 for fielding the young team having transgressed the competition’s selection rules, as they did against Gillingham.
“But we also got the fine back when we beat Gillingham,” Lambert pointed out, the club having received £10,000 for that victory.
“And that’s not what it’s about, it’s about these kids developing into footballers for the football club because I was brave enough to throw them in and get them to play my way, which is great.
“The performance was great against a League Two side, kids that are fluctuating between their age groups, getting games in the U18s, not getting games. It was an incredible performance, the way they played. I’m really proud of them.”
He added: “The football club was built on homegrown guys, Terry Butcher, Russell Osman, Mick Mills, all those guys, the club had people coming through, the team in 2000 too.
“I’ll never know unless I’m brave enough to throw them in. And that’s why I throw them in because you’ve got to see whether they can do it. They looked so mature, the youngest was 16, others were 18, 17, Zanda is 17. Every one of them I’m proud of how they played.”
Quizzed on whether any particular player caught his eye, Lambert kept his counsel: “I know in my own head but the general performance, they were taking the ball, working their guys, they were looking dead on their feet at certain times. The way they played, they did themselves proud, they did their families proud.”
Will he lose any sleep about exiting the competition? “No, I will sleep well because of the future if these kids can keep progressing, keep a level head and their feet on the ground. That makes me proud. That’s what this competition does.
“They should have sacrificed it for one season because they’ve not played last year’s final yet. To ask players to go Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday is tough. We had a really small group training today, we had 10 or 11 guys on training.”
Lambert says he will be giving the squad some time off with the weekend being free of a fixture: “We train tomorrow and then I’ll decide tomorrow from there. They’ll be getting a few days off.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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