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Lambert: U18s Made Youth Cup Tie a Fight
Friday, 11th Dec 2020 11:22

Town boss Paul Lambert praised the Blues’ U18s for making Monday’s 3-2 FA Youth Cup victory over Fulham a fight as they turned the game around from being 2-0 down at half-time to win in the fourth minute of injury time.

Sub Harley Curtis volleyed home the winner after midfielder Liam Gibbs had netted an 89th minute penalty with centre-half Brooklyn Kabongolo having pulled one back with a header five minutes into the second half.

Lambert believes several members of Monday’s side had benefited from being involved in the first team in the Papa John’s Trophy earlier in the season.

“I look at Gibbo and I look at Elkan [Baggott], wee Zander [Siziba] that played for me in the EFL Trophy, some of those kids played for me in the first team, and I think it showed in their maturity and just looking assured with themselves,” he said.

“The thing I said to them at half-time was that they were down 2-0 but for me they never really laid a glove on them, and I mean physically.

“They turned it around and I thought they made it a fight. In any football game you have to fight, you have to compete and that’s what they did in the second half and then they put really pressure on them.

“I thought they were excellent in the second half. The kids for me are really good players but the big question is ‘Am I brave enough to throw them in?’

“I think you see with the stats and everything that I’ve done that I’m not frightened to throw them in if I think they’re good enough.

“And thank God those kids have stepped up, Armando Dobra, Idris El Mizouni’s out playing with Cambridge United and doing well. Baggott’s done well, Gibbs has done well but I’ve been brave enough to throw them in.

“It’s OK saying they’re great young players, but you’ve got to have a manager to throw them in and that’s what I’ve said to you before, you’ve got to have somebody brave enough to throw you in to see if you’re good enough.

“And I know long term it’s going to be beneficial for the club to have those guys in about about the first team.”

Gibbs, 17, who made his league debut against Charlton a fortnight ago, travelled with the senior squad for the first time to Plymouth last weekend and was on the bench, while Indonesia U19 international centre-half Baggott, 18, also made the trip but was left out of the matchday squad.

As is the tradition, they both had to sing a song in front of their team-mates with one of them particularly impressing their manager with their vocal skills.

“I’ll tell you what, if Gibbs doesn’t become a footballer, that’s the next Rick Astley! He was brilliant, he was absolutely brilliant,” Lambert enthused.

“Baggott? I don’t know, Baggott’s probably a softly, softly one, I think he’s a ‘moonlight singer’, but Gibbs, he was absolutely brilliant. For a small guy, he could be Rick Astley, Kenny Rogers, brilliant.”

Lambert says academy coaches, such as Adem Atay, who runs the U18s, need to get their sides to play in the same manner as the first team.

“What we’re trying to do is get the kids to be comfortable with the ball, that’s apparent and play the same way as the first team and have the movements,” he said.

“The academy coaches for me, they have to develop what the first team do. I think that’s important for me.

“I watched Adem do a CPD [Continuous Professional Development session] with the kids. Was it 100 per cent the way I wanted it? No, but has he got an idea of it? Yes, he has got an idea of how we want to play.

“Do the kids have an idea, more importantly? Yes, they have an idea how I want them to play.

“It’s important that those young coaches develop the kids an understanding of the game as well as technically. You have got to know the game, not just being technically good footballers but you’ve got to know the game and where to go with the ball, without the ball, that’s important for them to develop.

“So when they come to me they should know where to go and what to do from there. They should actually know what’s happening. The coaches on that side, are doing a good job technically and getting good footballers.

“Young Jack Manly, who is 16 years old, is a big talent, a big, big talent but needs to be nurtured.

“Wee Nico [Valentine, also a schoolboy] is another big talent. There have been some really good things here with the kids.

“But again I go back to it, I’ve got to be big enough to throw them in to play and the other thing is that they have to have a game understanding and the young coaches here have to develop that.”

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Cloddyseedbed added 11:55 - Dec 11
Shame our 1st team manager doesn't make a fight of cup games.

Cloddyseedbed added 12:00 - Dec 11
Watched the 2nd half of this and what a fight and comeback. They wanted to win, they had the desire. Shame 1st team don't have that running through the team.

Carberry added 12:18 - Dec 11
So it's all down to you PR Paul? Let's hope they don't play like the 1st team and have more positivity going forward. What on earth do our Academy coaches think of him and his antics?

FrankfurtBlue added 13:19 - Dec 11
Watched the whole game. It wasn't fight that was missing in the first half, but very similar to the first team in many games against well organised sides, they stood off and failed to mark opponents, meaning that any pressing was futile, giving the opposition all the time they wanted to work the ball through our ranks. Fulham were very good at it.

Second half, we trusted our defence to cope, pushed the midfield and attackers up the field, pressed higher, got tackles in, made interceptions, and played in the opponents half of the pitch. The defence was key, as we effectively stopped everything higher up the pitch. At times, Gibbs was able to play in and around our central striker, giving the Fulham central defenders less time on the ball. Conversely, we had more time to create and in more dangerous areas, something that was non-existent in the first half.

Whoever called those changes, helped turn that game for us.

itfcjoe added 13:30 - Dec 11
Why try and change their successful way of playing to that of the first team?

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