U18s win away at Cheltenham
Jake Scrimshaw nets brace, as youngsters extended unbeaten run to seven.
AFC Bournemouth U18s extended their unbeaten run to seven with a 3-1 win away over Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
Jake Scrimshaw was awarded a penalty late in the first half, which he tucked away to put the Cherries 1-0 up, before Jake Cope made the lead more convincing in the second period.
Cheltenham hinted at a comeback with less than ten minutes to go, but Scrimshaw netted his second of the game to seal the win in stoppage time.
Ryan Glover had a handful of chances to put Alan Connell’s side in front in the first half, seeing a low, left-footed shot poked around the post by the goalkeeper’s left leg, and dragging a half-volley just wide across the face of goal.
There were concerns that Cameron Plain wouldn’t be able to play the full game after the Bournemouth shot-stopper was brought down by a late challenge. Despite fears that an outfield player might have to prove themselves between the sticks, Plain managed to carry on.
When the deadlock was broken, it came courtesy of a Jake Scrimshaw spot-kick. Bournemouth’s number nine had been played through by Tom Dinsmore, judged to have beaten the offside trap much to Cheltenham’s disbelief, before being brought down by the home side’s ‘keeper. Scrimshaw stepped up and stroked the penalty right down the middle to give Bournemouth the lead after a mostly quiet first half.
The Cherries got just the start to the second half they would have hoped for, Cope putting a nice cushion on the score-line after Scrimshaw threaded him through on goal. Cope, cool and composed, placed neatly into the top right corner out of the ‘keeper’s reach.
Cope almost added insult to injury two minutes after his goal, but the winger saw his shot from close range crash against the post.
The scoresheet almost had Glover’s name on it again on the 74th minute, as a quickly-taken Dinsmore free-kick fell at the feet of Glover, but he could only direct his shot at the goalkeeper and out for a corner. From the resulting kick, Brennan Camp’s effort at goal was well tipped onto the crossbar, keeping the away side from putting the game to bed.
Cheltenham were never out of the game, and so it proved with seven minutes to go, number 57 tapping in from close range after meeting a ball drilled across goal.
Connor Kurran-Browne missed a good opportunity late on, but Cheltenham also came close to drawing level late on.
The three points weren’t quite as comfortable as the score-line might suggest then, but Scrimshaw made sure of the result as he rounded the keeper in stoppage time before lifting the ball into an empty net for 3-1.
Speaking to afcb.co.uk after the game, Under-18s manager Alan Connell commented on the following points:
“I thought it was average if I’m being honest. Preparation-wise, we had a different week to normal because we had VAR games at the stadium on Thursday. Whether that influenced the way we played today, I don’t know, but we just looked a little bit off the pace. We didn’t retain the ball well enough.
“It was cold and wet and maybe we didn’t quite adapt to the conditions, especially early in the game. I was disappointed with the first half, but saying that I don’t think Cheltenham had any real chances in that period while we had four or five good ones so I suppose that’s a positive. The fact that we went into half-time 1-0 up through Scrimshaw’s penalty probably masked over the fact that we were nowhere near our best in the first half.
“I said to the boys at half-time that they weren’t at the level that we expect, and I think we got a reaction. They were better in the second half. We looked more threatening and created a lot of chances and scored a really nice goal through Cope. We had loads of chances to kill the game off and get that all-important third goal but didn’t take them. Cheltenham’s late goal made the last few minutes difficult but I thought the boys managed that well and got another goal at the end of the game to seal the win.
“Overall, the levels weren’t what I expected, but on a difficult day we were able to grind out a victory without playing particularly well, which is part of the development, but obviously, we want the players to be technically very good every game and tactically spot on. It’s important for the boys to realise that the standards are so high if they want to have the careers that they want to have. Sometimes, it’s not just about winning the games, it’s how we win them and we always try to do so in the AFC Bournemouth way.”
“We are in good form and I told the boys before the game to use that as confidence, but at the same time they remain grounded, which I’m sure they are. It’s pleasing and it’s nice to be winning games of football and we never sacrifice our principles to win games. We play out from the back, take the ball under pressure, and the boys deserve credit for that so it’s up to them to maintain those standards and be as good as they can be.
“Ultimately, yes we want to get them a career in football, but ideally we want them to be playing for our first-team. There’s no point in us masking over things and saying it was brilliant when it wasn’t. Even when we win games, if we don’t perform how we can, it’s important that the boys know the levels required of them. They’re young lads and they don’t always know what those levels are so it’s my job to make sure they understand that.”
“Our two second-year goalkeepers are out on loan in non-league to aid their development, so you run that risk of not having a backup goalkeeper on the bench. Luckily, Plain was okay to continue, but at one point we were thinking we might have to put an outfield player in goal which wouldn’t have been ideal. I’m not sure who it would have been!
"There were a couple of names thrown at me but I didn’t want to move them from their positions outfield. We got to half-time and Sara Sayer, our physio, saw to his injury so he was fine to play the rest of the game.
Importance of nutrition
“Ben Bradley, our sports scientist, treats our players like professionals from a young age about what’s good for them sleep-wise and in terms of eating habits. From my own experience as a player, I realise the importance of looking after yourself, be it with food, hydration or sleep.
"Every day, I hammer home how important it is what the players do away from the training ground in terms of what they eat before and after games. If they want that one percent edge over the next player, they need to make sure they get those little details right.”
The AFC Bournemouth U18s are sponsored by Strategic Solutions.