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U19s | Ian Skinner hails hard work following consecutive wins
Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

1st March 2023

U19s manager Ian Skinner feels his players are starting to reap the rewards of their hard work after making it two consecutive wins in a week against Blyth Spartans and Chesterfield.

The Heed’s youngsters moved 10th in the NLFA North Division league table with two contrasting victories – overturning a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 at league leaders Blyth Spartans before a commanding 3-0 triumph at home to Chesterfield last Wednesday.

A hat-trick from Oli Thompson, who made the first team bench against Oldham one day prior, completed the comeback at Croft Park while strikes from George Brady, Zac Benjamin, Ben Franklin secured another three points against the Spireites.

“We needed to keep that momentum,” said Skinner.

“It’s no good being able to do it for 45 minutes in the second half against Blyth Spartans if we couldn’t come and do it against Chesterfield ,and I said that to them before the game.

“As good a result as it was, it wouldn’t really have counted for anything if we didn’t back it up, but again to their credit there was that bounce.

“From the first whistle we looked as if we were going to be at it. We moved the ball quickly and kept it for long periods of time, and we played really well through two thirds of the pitch.

“We played a little bit safe at times in the final third though, and at half time we challenged them to be a little more expansive and take more risks, and they did that in the second half.

“The confidence came flooding back once we were ahead, and we managed to add another two goals in what was a comfortable afternoon, without being disrespectful to Chesterfield.

“It was another thoroughly pleasing performance, and there’s still lots of work ahead, but it’s a group who have come together recently and are working hard.

“We’ve got a real process in how we want to try and play, and the players have embraced that and are starting to see the fruits of their hard work.”

Thompson’s inclusion on the bench for January’s first team fixture at home to Oldham, meanwhile, only spurred the forward on to net his hat trick the following night.

The youngster has ‘taken it in his stride’ by Skinner’s admission, with ambitions of a future in the professional game very much in mind.

Photo: Ben Cuthbertson

“He’s a talented boy, no doubt about it,” he said.

“He listens, he wants to learn and he wants to get better. 

“I knew he would take it in his stride and he certainly enjoyed the experience of being with the first team, being around those lads and seeing what’s required.

“He still has ambitions to be a professional footballer, certainly having been through the professional academy system at younger age groups.

“He was almost embarrassed about it, because obviously the lads were ribbing him a little bit, and then at Blyth he came into his own.

“He can pick one of those killer passes, as they call them in football, and on top of that he chips in with goals, so that makes him a really hot prospect.

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