James Collins was proud with the way his under-23 players are learning to win games from difficult situations having fought from behind to take the three points at Sunderland.
Having earned their first win in four Premier League 2 Division 2 fixtures on Monday night, thanks to two goals from Chem Campbell, as fellow winger Chiquinho got his first outing in gold and black, Collins believes the victory will give a boost to his players as they prepare for a tough second half of the season.
On taking home three points from Sunderland
“You’re always delighted to win because part of under-23 football is winning, trying to win and learning how to win, especially in difficult places.
“Sunderland is always a difficult place to come, whether that’s first-team, under-23, under-18, it’s always a hard place to come away from home, they always make the game hard and it’s hard to play here on a cold January night on a difficult pitch and get a result, so I was really proud of the boys.”
On fighting from behind
“I thought we played a bit short early on last week against Burnley, and we knew it was going to be a difficult pitch here, so I wanted us to play, but we’ve got to play with intelligence, and I thought we did that in the first 10 minutes.
“We got some balls behind them, we played through the territory, we played some good football in their half, and I thought we’d had a really good start. At that point, we were wanting to settle into the game and play a little bit, but we made a mistake and gifted them a goal, and you wonder how they’re going to react to that, and I thought we reacted really well.
“We scored a well-worked set-piece. We weren’t shouting on for them to do that set-piece, they showed the intelligence and bravery that it’s one we do, but it isn’t one we’ve practiced this week, so it’s really good to see they’re remembering the set-pieces in the key moments.
“That let us get back into it and I felt the next goal was really important. We got it, and then they had a bit of momentum but without really threatening us or hurting us and we were able to see the game out well.”
On Campbell’s brace
“We talk to Chem a lot about his output. He’s a talented player and we watch him training with the first-team and he’s got real Premier League quality.
“But he knows he’s got to assist, he’s got to make and he’s got to score goals and tonight, I actually thought that he could’ve played better, he’s better than that, but I thought his goals were good, he kept at it, and at the end of the game, he was getting at them.
“There were two or three little moves down our side right near the end of the game which has got to be how he plays. You’ve got to be pleased when we’re asking him for output and he’s got two goals, so he can be delighted with that.”
On first league win since November
“We had a couple of tough games before Christmas. Fulham, who are flying in this league, had a very senior team against a very young team that we had at the time and Norwich are a really good side in this league and score a lot of goals.
“Then we had a good performance at West Ham, although we didn’t get the win, it was a really good performance to get a point there in the Premier League Cup, and first game after Christmas against Burnley last week we got a point, where we were probably a little bit disappointed not to get a win.
“Tonight, it was important to get us back going again. Draws are not losing, but three points are always going to give you a lift and gives everybody a boost. Learning how to win in tough places is part of under-23 development, and we did that.”