SPD Coach looks at quarter final victory
- Frankie Bunn reviews U21 Premier League Cup win
- Bunn praises penalty taking of HTAFC's youngsters
- SPD Coach looks ahead to the semi-final
The scores were level at 1-1 after 120 hard-fought minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium, but the young Terriers took five superb penalties to secure the shootout victory.
“We’ve had to do it the hard way and I don’t think a penalty shootout is ever a nice way to finish a game,” Frankie told htafc.com.
“Charlton had a strong opening to the game for the first 15 minutes and got their goal when they were on top. We recovered well, regrouped and got back into the game.
“I thought we had enough opportunities to win it in normal time. Flo (Bojaj) had a couple of one-on-ones and we had another couple of chances when Jordy (Hiwula) got in the box a few times. In general play, I thought we maybe edged it.”
Both sides created chances in the extra half hour and Frankie put that down to the Development Squad’s hard work at PPG Canalside day in, day out.
“We have a fit bunch of players, so I had no qualms over extra time. I thought physically we looked OK, certainly in the 90 minutes and generally in extra time. That comes through our training, where they are physically put through the mill.”
The Addicks had a strong spell in the extra 30 minutes, but Town’s first year professional goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan kept them at bay.
Frank continued: “That’s what we have goalkeepers for! Tadhg pulled off a couple of good saves and kept us alive. We showed resilience and kept at it, which is testament to what we do. The boys keep on fighting until the end.”
When it came to the shootout, Town’s takers – Duane Holmes, Jack Boyle, Flo Bojaj, Jordy Hiwula and Regan Booty – took five precision kicks to leave the visiting custodian with no chance.
“This group of players has been there before over the four years I’ve been here. We’ve been in Play-Off Finals and they know what it’s about,” Bunn explained.
“We prepared well for the penalties yesterday and the lads were quite confident. Having watched them, I was quite confident as well.
“They knew the order, but we did check how everyone was feeling because sometimes people can change their mind when it comes to the moment. They were all strong enough to stick to the plan.
“All we told the players was not to change their minds on the walk up. It’s a long walk from the halfway line and a lot can go through your mind, but we told them to stick with their initial thought and it looked like they did.
“The players held their nerves, as did Charlton, who put four away; it’s always unfortunate that someone has to miss one. However, you have to finish the game.”
Town’s players celebrated in front of the healthy crowd at the final whistle, but Bunn was adamant that nothing has been achieved yet.
“They’re quite buoyant, but I’ve told them there is another game to go yet in this competition. It would be a great achievement for this Club to get to a major final, which is what it would be.
“There is still another obstacle to overcome and we don’t know who we’ve got or when the draw is yet, but we’re in the final four.
“There are still a few Category 1 clubs in the competition – the likes of Brighton, Everton and Liverpool – but if we turn up and play, we’re a match for anybody. We’ll keep our feet on the ground and be ready for the next round.”
Finally, Frankie commented on Jordy Hiwula’s performance; the attacker played 120 minutes on his return from a loan spell at Wigan Athletic.
“Jordy has been at a big club in Manchester City, so he’s got qualities.
“He started OK today, but perhaps faded a little bit. He just needs a bit more game time now; the more he gets, the better he’ll become. Like most kids, he needs a run of games.”