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Better Foundations

Jerry Gill looks for defensive improvement

Jerry Gill says Wolves Academy Under-18s need to find some more solid foundations as they prepare for Saturday’s Black Country derby against West Bromwich Albion.

What remains a very young team packed with first year scholars and indeed Under-16s, have leaked 11 goals in their last three games, most recently a 4-1  defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday.

Whilst the emphasis, especially with such a young team, remains on learning and developing, Gill is also keen for his team to pick up some positive results and build a more solid and winning mentality where possible.

Against Newcastle Jordan Allan opened the scoring for Wolves, finding the target for the second successive weekend,  before the Toon missed a penalty prior to levelling before half time.

And the hosts struck three times in the second half to run out comfortable winners.

“We started Saturday’s game really well,” says coach Gill.

“We had a really good spell midway through the first half and were controlling possession.

“Jordan put us ahead, deservedly so, and we were on the ascendancy and on the front foot.

“Newcastle got the equaliser but we went in at half time and said to the lads that they were still on top, still looked the better team, and had to go out and take the game to them again.

“At the start of the second half that just didn’t happen.

“We gave away sloppy goals, and that has become a pattern in recent weeks where teams haven’t had to work too hard to score against us.

“We need to address that, and work on it, and tighten everything up a little bit.

“We don’t want to be conceding as many goals as we have done.

“Newcastle were made up almost entirely of second years, and are top of the league and going really well.

“But that is no excuse for the result.

“We felt we had a good enough team out to go on and get a positive result.

“We were much better in possession than the previous weekend, and we did well in one-v-one situations and got some excellent crosses which flashed across the box without anyone getting on the end of them.

“But we just conceded those poor goals, which is something we will be having a look at when we analyse the game this week.”

Results have never been the be all and end all for Wolves at youth level, with the priority more blooding young players, and players stepping up to higher age groups, with the pathway to the first team the biggest priority.

But by the same token Gill is stressing the need not to discount the need for wins

“It is about learning, but we don’t want to be a team that learns but doesn’t win,” he said.

“We do want to win games, and performance levels are really important to us.

“There are not enough individuals at the moment who are on top of their games.

“Performance levels will go up and down, especially with players who are 15 or 16, but it is about trying to get that consistency within the group.

“We have had some really good moments already this season, and having lost two games we don’t want to lose too many more.

“If we are going to lose them it has to be in the right way, and we haven’t been tight enough in our defending.

“I am sure we will bounce back in our next few games.”

The first of those sees Albion visit Compton Park on Saturday.

“This will be a derby game and it is about making sure that it does matter, the lads do care and show their passion,” said Gill.

“These derbies are often frantic, and the last couple have seen a few flashpoints.

“That happens in derby games, and the lads have to deal with those situations and be controlled.

“They can be aggressive in their one-on-one duels, but they need to stay controlled and competitive, and play their football.

“A lot of our young  lads are getting a lot of experience of Under-18 football early on and are facing some good challenges.

“I am looking forward to seeing how they respond this week and take the work we are doing into Saturday’s game.”