Rob Edwards believes his side’s performance and penalty shootout victory over Lincoln City shows the learning curve of his side in the Checkatrade Trophy this term.
His under-23s stood up to the physical battle Lincoln posed, twice coming from behind, and took the bonus point in the shootout – where they’d previously come up short.
“I was pleased with the character to win on penalties. We’ve been through that and lost once, so to win with the fans behind the goal giving the lads stick, that’s what the competition is all about,” he said.
“There weren’t many under-23s to win on penalties in the first round so to do it in front of people behind the goal, putting them off, that’s pressure. That’s the most important thing, they coped with it really well.
“We’re trying to develop the players, give them an opportunity to show what they can do against first-team players, and with people watching. We’d obviously have loved to have won, but we’re playing a side flying high in League Two and mixed it with them.”
Benny Ashley-Seal and Ryan Giles were on target at Sincil Bank, after Matt Green had twice given the hosts lead and that resilience was one of many pleasing aspects for Edwards.
“We went 1-0 down, got back in it, 2-1 down, got back in it, with some really good goals. We showed good quality at times, not enough, but there were a couple of good moves in the second period where it would have been great if we had the final touch.
“Only by doing it can the lads really keep believing - put the ball back on the spot and go again, keeping doing what we do. To show the character is something you have to do in football, you’re going to concede goals at some stage.
“I’m not saying we deserved to win, I think a draw was the fair result on the night, but we showed a good blend of defensive courage and bravery to get on the ball because they press well and are physical.”
The under-23s faced the unfamiliar task of competing with physical players such as Matt Rhead and John Akinde, and Edwards was delighted with how they stood up to the challenge while sticking to their game plan.
“Under-23s football can’t give you this challenge. This is the only way you can come up against a different type of opponent and, being honest, the kind of opponent they’ll hopefully face in the next stage of their development if they don’t get into the first team and go out on loan.
“We’re disappointed how we conceded our two, we gifted them away, but the way we play we will make mistakes at times, but we trust what we do. We said it at half time that we’ll go again and we did.”