Professional Development Coach reviews Play-Off defeat
Huddersfield Town’s Lead Professional Development Coach Tony Carss believes the Club’s young players will learn valuable lessons from today’s PDL2 Play-Off semi-final reversal at the hands of Brentford.
Carss’ talented team didn’t quite reach the level of performance it had shown throughout the course of the season during the 90 minutes against the Bees, eventually falling to a 2-1 defeat.
Tony told htafc.com that the ability to perform on the big stage is a key component to forging a professional career and that the scholars will be better equipped the next time around for today’s experience.
“Winning the northern league was great not only in its own right, but because it gave the players the opportunity to play at the stadium in a pressurised knockout game today.
“To be fair the last four normal league games were similar, as we knew we had to win all four to get to this point. It was really pleasing that in the run, we produced some of our best performances.
“Big occasions such as these are as much about dealing with the circumstances as anything else; making good decisions and showing moments of quality at key times. The disappointing aspect to the game was that at times we lacked that bit of quality and composure in our decision-making.
“The lads will learn from this, because they have to do. You have to be able to produce your best performances in games like this, when it matters. We didn’t quite impose ourselves enough on the ball like we can do. Although we had moments throughout the game, we didn’t do it for the 90 minutes.
“We did keep going, but at times we were a bit loose with our passing and rushed in our decision-making. In amongst the emotion of a big game, it takes calmness to produce real quality. That isn’t doing the thing that will win the match, it’s doing the simple thing that helps you build.
“We wanted that big performance today, but in a tough game we didn’t quite reach the level that we hoped we would.”
Despite that, the young Terriers arguably created the better chances in the game – but couldn’t get the ball in the net for a second time.
Tony continued: “We know how we want to play and we kept trying to do that, but it didn’t flow. Brentford’s a good side and presented a great challenge for us. Although they had good possession, we never really looked under threat; we coped with them reasonably well.
“We made a couple of individual mistakes deep in our own half that ultimately had a big impact on the momentum of the game. I think the first goal we conceded knocked the wind out of our sales, whereas we have to learn to quickly get back on the front foot.
“We did have chances; Ronan (Coughlan) got in behind and was unlucky with the lob, whereas another fell to Jack Boyle. That was pleasing.”
Despite today’s loss, the Under-18s retained the Professional Development League 2 North title and former Town midfielder Carss says the players have markedly improved over the nine months:
“It’s been a really good season. The development and improvement in the players from the start of the season to now has been massive.
“We always focus on the performance and the elements that we’re looking for, a lot of which come on the mental side. Over the season we’ve won the northern league by producing performances that we set out to, with an identity about how we play and how we move the ball.
“That comes from having intelligent players and creativity in the team, which is important. You need to give the players freedom to express themselves and make things happen, which they had done time and time again.”
If Town’s youngsters need an example of the progression that can be made, they need look no further than Joe Wilkinson. Saturday’s First Team debutant was in their shoes playing for the Under-18s barely 12 months ago.
Tony commented: “The pathway is there. Ultimately we want the players in the First Team dressing room regularly on a Saturday come 3pm; that’s the goal for everybody.
“At Under-18 level it’s about learning and improving; bringing those extra one percentages together to cumulatively make a massive difference. You can never settle for what you’ve got and we’re constantly pushing for the players to improve their performance levels. Next season we’re pushing for these lads to come back stronger, both mentally and physically.
“It was fantastic to see Joe make his debut. I worked with Joe right through from Under-14 level to the Under-18s and he is a very effective man on the training ground from day to day. He’s quiet – he doesn’t make a fuss – but you know he is doing everything he possibly can do every day to keep improving. That’s fantastic for a coach.
“Although he’s very young, he’s a great role model when it comes to the mentality, drive and application it takes to make it for our current Under-18 players. It shows where that can take you.”
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