First team coach Dave Reddington was pleased with his youthful side’s efforts in the draw at AFC Wimbledon last night, but left ruing what might have been – had they held on for an extra couple of minutes.
Reddington was standing in for Roy Hodgson and Ray Lewington, who were in the stands, said: “We’re a little bit disappointed not to get the result, but there were a lot of positives to come out really - lads getting minutes in their legs, but also young lads getting tested against a League One side. In terms of the team, we asked them to dig in and stick together – and get through the performance. We’ll probably take the 2-2.”
Reddington praised the team’s shape, as the side adopted a relatively unfamiliar 4-3-3. He described the preparation as “frantic”, elaborating: “Trying to put the team together, and then trying to get them as organised as we can. The group haven’t trained together – so basically a lot of it is done by video and tactics boards. The lads took it all on and did their best to deliver the plan.”
Indeed, it was a significant improvement from the side’s loss at Barnet a fortnight ago. “Barnet came a bit early after Switzerland [tour]. Every single team had been on tour, so everyone hadn’t been together. It was a difficult game. Barnet played really as well which shocked us a bit. They had lots of energy in the second half which we didn’t match. We said today – ‘lads, you’ve got to be disappointed with that result’ – they’ve got to bank that and move forwards.”
The former Academy coach was quick to praise 17 year-old forward Brandon Pierrick, who netted twice. “Obviously Brandon’s two goals were a real positive – he’s a talent we’ve kept an eye on for a long time in the Academy. He’s a very powerful boy – electric pace off the mark.”
It was a pleasing night for the coaching staff, as centre-back Mamadou Sakho completed 60 minutes as a starter following a five-month absence. His impact went far beyond his calming influence on the pitch, as Reddington said: “He’s really important. He’s been back in training about a week now – it’s been good to have him back. His presence around the place is really important, his body language has improved – he looks really positive in terms of what he’s doing.
“Even today talking to the lads before the game – he got them all together and told them how important the game was and all of a sudden, all the players eyes light up, and they realise – we’re here for a game. His presence around the place is important.”