Brighton & Hove Albion under-18s joint-head coach Mark Beard was delighted with the application his side showed in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Swansea City at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
First-half goals from Hayden Roberts and Mamadou Kone were added to by Bojan Radulovic in the second half to give the home side a comfortable win – and Beard was full of praise for the young Seagulls.
He said, “It’s a very pleasing win because that’s two wins in a row for us now – we had a lot of players out on Saturday and we still beat Aston Villa.
“We pretty much had the straight 11 and then the bench was made up of under-16s, and today we had three under-16 players starting and a young bench again.
“We came up against a very strong Swansea City team who were fourth in the league before today, so we’re delighted.”
It was a commanding performance from the side, which is run by both Mikey Harris and Beard, and the latter was pleased with the way the hosts began the game and then managed the contest.
“The boys looked confident from the start – both Bojan [Radulovic] and Stefan [Ljubicic] were a threat up front because they’re both well over six-foot tall and they gave us a real presence and outlet.
“It gave us a different dimension in that area because on the whole we’ve been quite a small team this year, so we’re happy with that.
“One of the most pleasing aspects of today is the clean sheet – because we had some young players in defence.
“They did brilliantly as a unit and they all performed for the team and we were clinical in the right areas - as a team, they can be very pleased.”
First-team duo Liam Rosenior and Anthony Knockaert were both in attendance for the game against the Welsh side in the Under-18 Premier League South, and Beard emphasised how his young players can benefit from having Albion’s senior players watching their matches.
“It’s great for the boys to have the first-team players watching because that will give them an extra bit of confidence.
“I asked Liam [Rosenior] to come in yesterday and do some work with them - he’s got great experience and he’s done a few sessions with the boys.
“The feedback that the players get from first-team players is invaluable and he’s given them good praise today, so overall it’s very pleasing.”
The Seagulls have two matches left of their 2017/18 campaign, and with the side sitting in eight position in the table, Beard reflected on the season as a whole.
“We’ve got Southampton this Saturday and then we finish the campaign with Reading - overall it’s been a bit of an up-and-down season.
“We’ve had some serious injuries that affected us for a while, but we’ve improved as the season has gone on.
“We’re more about a style of play and getting them ready for future life as a professional – but every week they’re improving and learning.
“They’re enjoying it at the moment and they’re playing with a lot of passion and desire.”