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Shaw explains tactical switch in U23s' comeback

27 July 2019

Richard Shaw led his Under-23 squad to an eye-catching comeback against Dulwich Hamlet this afternoon as his Development team hauled themselves from a 2-0 disadvantage to end the game as 4-2 victors.

Scoring their first of four just five minutes after half-time, the difference in the success of the first and second half was astounding and the Eagles retook the field after 45 minutes looking like a truly rejuvenated side.

Describing himself as "very pleased," Shaw explained the tactical switches he made to help pull his team back into the match.

"There were a couple of changes at half time," he said. "It was hard at half time to be 2-0 down, I don't think we really deserved that I have to say. So we made a few changes, took the game 10 or 15 yards higher defensively and going forward. We got the seven [Brandon Pierrick] and 11 [Jason Lokilo] higher to engage the fullbacks and the eight [Jason Puncheon] so just those little tweaks made the difference.

"To be fair, to score five minutes into the second half with Brandon Pierrick was a real fillip for us so I'm really delighted. I thought all four goals were very, very good. In the end we could have had a few more but I have to say, I enjoy coming here to Dulwich. They're a good side, they beat Tottenham Under-23s last week so we knew we were going to be in for a tough game. I'm delighted how the boys adapted, second half especially."

From the first minute, this afternoon's fixture was a well-fought, physical affair with the older hosts ensuring their younger visitors knew they had endured a competitive battle. With a young squad at his disposal, Shaw explained the advantages of facing tougher opponents for less experienced players.

"We're working with [Brandon] Aveiro, BP [Pierrick]. Some of the lads are first-year pros, a lot of the lads are second-year scholars so they would never play against men in football. That's the reason why we do it and if they take too many touches like they did last Tuesday against Corinthian Casuals, they will just get tackled and it will be quite a firm tackle as well and they don't want that.

"So they've got to move it quickly. It teaches them to move the ball quick off one, two or three touches and it teaches them to move and find areas or spaces, dropping off, getting runners in behind where they can't get marked. In that respect it was a real good exercise for the guys and I thought they coped really well today."

Regardless of how the Eagles played at Champion Hill, however, their four goals came from four exceptional strikes and Pierrick, Gio McGregor and Jason Lokilo earned their names on the scoresheet in impressive fashion.

Shaw praised the strikes before remarking that he is just as happy to see simple, more reliable efforts hit the net too, especially from younger players.

"We do a lot of finishing," he explained. "We do a lot of pattern play and we do encourage them to try and hit corners. But there have been far too many shots going over the bar in training at the moment. That's something we've got to work on. It's technique and also it's about being in that area and your eyes are wide open and you think: 'I'm going to score here.' All of a sudden you lose focus and you lose technique.

"You look throughout history, the best strikers - Ian Rush, Gary Lineker, Robbie Fowler, the eras I sort of played and watched - they used to hit the corners. Good technique, hit the corners. I think our guys think they've got to hook it in from 60 yards in the top corner and they might get it on Twitter, might get a few likes for it. But if you score from six yards out, focus and hit the target, that's the key."

SEE ALSO: U23s Report: Palace triumph in impressive comeback v Dulwich Hamlet

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