Plenty to ponder for Ruth after Celtic thriller

Head coach was pleased that under-21s regained the momentum to win after losing a 3-0 lead.

By Nick Szczepanik • 27 November 2023

By Simon Roe
Shannon Ruth praised his team's ability to regain the momentum after losing a 3-0 lead to beat Celtic 4-3.

Men’s under-21 head coach Shannon Ruth admitted that he had plenty to think about after Albion's 4-3 victory over Celtic at the Amex in the Premier League International Cup.

On the positive side was Albion’s early dominance, a winning goal off the bench for Louis Flower, and a chance for his young players to perform at the Premier League stadium. Not quite so good was the way the team surrendered a 3-0 lead before steadying the ship and grabbing that last-gasp winner.

“We started the game really well,” he said. “I was pleased with the goals and felt we could have had more. The fact that we didn’t get them allowed Celtic back into the game. I never thought that Celtic played poorly; it was just that we had started well.  When we were three up we took our foot off the accelerator and that gave Celtic a bit of life and after that the game swung back and forth. For a large period they had a lot of control.” 

By Simon Roe
Blooming marvellous: Louis Flower celebrates his late winner against Celtic.

Ruth believes that playing in front of a larger crowd than usual, which included a number of very enthusiastic and vociferous Celtic fans, was a valuable experience for his players and affected the game’s ebb and flow. “The occasion probably played a part,” he added. “Playing at the Amex with a crowd, these are things that the players are not used to. But that makes it such a great night from the development perspective.  

“We have been scoring quite a few goals and a lot of the philosophy is about having possession of the ball, controlling the game - we try our hardest to implement some of Roberto [de Zerbi]’s ideas, so that they are ready if and when they step up to first-team level. 

“But we have not been very good when we don’t have the ball. We are a bit more open and vulnerable to a counter-attack than the first team. At 3-2 you could feel the crowd react and the energy in the stadium start to shift, and they are not used to that. We didn’t want it to happen, but it gave us the opportunity to practise not having control and having to hang in there a bit. That is something we are working hard on.


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PL International Cup Highlights: Brighton 4 Celtic 3

“To deal with momentum against you and to try and regain that momentum is a good lesson. Recovering and getting the fourth showed good character from the group.”

That fourth goal from Flower, not long after he had missed a chance, was a boost for the former Chelsea striker. “I was pleased for Louis, because he has had to be patient,” Ruth said. “He has had Mark O’Mahony in front of him, who scored another two goals, so he has had to come off the bench and impact games from that situation. To get the winner will be a big lift for Louis and I am delighted for him.”

O’Mahony’s brace, added to two more for Ireland under-19 in a recent European Championship qualifier against Albania, brought his total for the season to 13. “Mark is developing in a very good way, but I think he would be the first to say that the team creates some really good chances for him. A lot of his goals are tap-ins following good team play. He has an eye for goal, he knows where to be and when, so he can be very pleased with his season so far.”

Ruth also praised the achievement of Andrew Moran, currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers, who made his full Ireland debut against New Zealand in midweek, alongside Evan Ferguson and former Albion youngster Jayson Molumby.

“We were super pleased for him. He is a wonderful player but also a great lad. From an academy perspective, it was a very proud moment to see three of our graduates on the same pitch in an international. It shows those positive connections we have in Ireland but also that the players are performing well and that the academy can develop full internationals.”