Ryan Loft, Zenon Stylianides and Charlie Owens all found the net inside 24 minutes as we got off to a flying start to the new Barclays Under-18 Premier League campaign at the Training Centre, with Kazaiah Sterling and substitute Samuel Shashoua later joining them on the scoresheet to round off a comfortable 5-1 win.
Kieran underlined how that fast-starting tendency, which has also been on show throughout the pre-season period, stems from the lads’ hard work in training.
“It’s something the boys have done really well in all the pre-season games, where we’ve scored within the first five minutes,” he said.
“I think it comes from how the players prepare for games, not only in the training sessions in the days leading up to matches but also on the matchdays themselves where we prepare well and warm-up correctly so we’re ready to hit the ground running. It’s something the boys are doing well at the moment and hopefully that’ll continue.”
A lack of recognised centre-halves in the squad this week meant there was an unfamiliar look to our back four, with young central midfielder George Marsh dropping in to partner fellow first year scholar Jaden Brown, who also plays as a left-back, in the centre of defence.
Owens also did a stint at centre-back later in the game, while Brown switched positions with left-back Joe Muscatt in the last 10 minutes. That versatility was another positive talking point for Kieran afterwards.
“The defensive performance was very pleasing,” he added. “It’s sometimes the case at this level that people have to fill in by playing different roles and what we hope is that they apply themselves in the way George Marsh did today. I thought he was outstanding for a young first year midfielder playing at centre-half, while we tried to rotate a little bit with Joe Muscatt and Jaden Brown at the end to give them both an opportunity to get forward, but also to develop themselves as centre-halves.
“All things considered it was a pleasing first outing. We attacked the game really well, played with good intensity and got a couple of high-quality goals through Zenon and Charlie. That was really important for them because neither of them scored the goals they’re capable of getting last season so I was delighted to see them get on the scoresheet.”