Academy Manager Andy Jones and Goalkeeper Coach Phil Smart look back on the game with SunderlandShrewsbury Town’s Under-18s were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup in the fourth round by Sunderland on Wednesday night.
Town went in level at the break thanks to a George Hassall equaliser on the half hour mark, which cut out Sunderland’s early opener. But as Town’s young guns grew in confidence in the second half they were caught twice on the break, before Chris Gallagher had a penalty saved late on, leaving the final score at 3-1 to the home side.
Town’s Academy Manager Andy Jones was in attendance and he spoke to ShrewsWeb after the match.
“The result’s 3-1 but I think we had some good chances,” he said.
“They’re a good side and they had a lot of possession of the ball, but we were well structured and had a game plan which worked, and little things didn’t go our way in the end.
“As a performance it was fantastic and as a club we’re proud of the way the boys played.”
Town’s Academy Goalkeeping Coach, Phil Smart, was also in attendance and he also spoke to ShrewsWeb after the match.
Smart said: “After going a goal down - with the occasion we could have gone back into themselves and sat deep, and let Sunderland come onto us a bit more.
“But the boys reacted well and they set back up, stuck to the plan, and worked a great opportunity from which we equalise – and then the belief never really left us.
“After the equaliser we went on in the game – the result doesn’t quite reflect the performance. And walking off the pitch tonight the boys can be happy with everything they’ve done.”
Hassall has now scored three goals in his last two games, and his goal was one of a number of chances created by Town, who also had a penalty saved late on.
Jones said: “It was a great move, something we’ve worked on all week, Aaron’s [Gilpin] has put a fantastic ball in and George’s done very well with the header.
“That wasn’t the only occasion; we’ve had two or three really good chances. We got into some great areas and broke lines in the final third.
“We just maybe haven’t had that final ball that cuts them open, I think on the balance of the game we had the better chances and stuck to our game plan really well - sometimes in football you don’t get what you deserve.”
By reaching the fourth round Town ended a run of five second round defeats in the last six years, showing the improvements made by Town’s current crop of Under-18s.
Jones said: “We’ve had a great run and we’re really proud of the boys, and obviously it’s great for the club.
“We’ve just said in the changing rooms – we’re out of the cup and we’re disappointed but we go again on Saturday. Sometimes the best thing about football is the next game’s only two or three days away and that’s what we’ll plan for.”