AFC Bournemouth coach Shaun Cooper praised the maturity and bravery of his under-21 players following Tuesday’s Central League Cup semi-final victory over Shrewsbury Town.
Goals from Keelan O’Connell and Charlie Seaman were enough for the Cherries to progress against an experienced Shrewsbury side.
The hosts did rally late on, but goalkeeper Mark Travers and his backline stood strong to book their place in the final.
“In the end I think it was a deserved win,” Cooper told afcb.co.uk after the game. “I was really pleased with the lads, particularly in the second half.
“We spoke at half time and I thought we were fortunate to be a goal up. Mark [Travers] has had to make a very good save and despite doing okay in the first period, we knew we could do a lot better.
“In the second half the lads came out and responded to our discussion. I was really pleased with how we played – some of our passing was excellent at times.
“Shrewsbury were a constant threat with their direct play, but I thought our goal was excellent.
“Being two goals up is never enough, but we dealt with what they were throwing at us really well. The work rate from our front players in particular, to force them to go long from deep, helped our back line.
“We stood up to the test, were strong and brave. It was a really dogged effort from the lads in the second half to see the game out.”
“The style of play the lads have come up against is one, that if they’re looking to go out on loan, they’ll be faced with on a regular basis.
“I thought for us to show the bravery in possession we did, whilst also dealing with their physicality, was reflected in the maturity of the performance in the second half. They played like a real group of young men.”