Kennedy proud of players in late defeat

Mark Kennedy was proud of the performance his under-21 side displayed against Blackpool on Tuesday night, despite their hopes of making it into the knockout stages of the Trophy out of their hands.

Rocky Bushiri’s 93rd minute winner for the Seasiders confirmed their place in the last 32 of the competition but left the Wolves development side – who hit the woodwork three times against Blackpool – relying on Morecambe to earn at least a draw with Carlisle United next week to seal their place in the latter rounds.

Despite the late defeat, Kennedy was pleased with how his young players stood up to the challenge of their League One opponents.

On performance against Blackpool

“I was proud of the lads this evening, I thought they were outstanding and a great game for them tonight.

“I watched Blackpool play on Saturday and they were very good and beat a very good Peterborough side. You look at their results this season and the team they finished the match with was particularly strong.

“But when I look at the performance of our lads; how we played, how we acquitted ourselves, physically, tactically, defensively, offensively – we hit the post three times, and we’re not talking wonder shots from 60 yards, we’re talking good opportunities which we created.

“The toughest thing to take is the goal that we conceded. There’s a specific detail within the goal that I’ve talked to the group about a lot in training, and things we do and things we work on. So, from that aspect, it’s really disappointing for me as a coach, but it’s impossible to come out and knit pick or give critique – I thought all of them were outstanding.

“They’re devastated in there, rightly so, and I’m gutted for them, but they should be incredibly proud of themselves.”

On falling in the final minute

“We conceded a 96th minute goal against Derby on Friday night – a set-piece, and I think since I’ve been here, we’ve been a huge threat from set-pieces, and we’ve defended them really well.

“What would concern me is that for 85 minutes I’m quite calm about what’s going on, my worry is that last five minutes, that mentality, that drive, those leaders who are saying ‘over my dead body is anyone scoring’.

“If we were to break down the goals we conceded in the four games I’ve been here for, they’re heavily down to individual mistakes.

“But that is football. They need to learn about winning, because that is the next step, although there is a development aspect to it, so as long as they learn from that and recognise that we need to work individually and collectively.

“I’ll take the defeat gladly if one of these guys plays in the first-team in six months’ time to a year and they recognise something that happened out here tonight which we talked about and it doesn’t happen again.”

On hitting the woodwork three times

“When we hit the woodwork for the third time, I turned to Simon Grayson and said: ‘how big are your posts?!’ It’s just one of those things – what I’m pleased about is that at least we’re hitting targets and getting there, at least we’re creating chances.

“But this is a fantastic learning experience for the guys tonight. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next week with Morecambe and Carlisle.

“I’m a real big Morecambe fan! No, what will be, will be. The lads have had a great run under Rob in the first two games – Carlisle away, I was there, and they were absolutely immense, and a fantastic performance against Morecambe.

“It’s been a great experience, so now it’s just fingers crossed that we get an opportunity to continue the journey.”