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#U21 #PapaJohnsTrophy #MatchReaction #Gillingham #RodelRichards

Striker Richards: 'We can look back and say that we've learned'

Wed 13 November 2019, 11:30|Tottenham Hotspur

Teenage striker Rodel Richards believes our young players will be better off for their experiences in this season’s Trophy.

Following a narrow loss at Ipswich Town and subsequent penalty shootout win at Colchester United last month, we needed to beat Gillingham at Priestfield on Tuesday night to stay in with a chance of progressing from Southern Group A.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t turn possession into chances and the League One side ran out 2-0 winners, Alex Jakubiak and Jack Tucker scoring either side of half-time.

As it happened, Colchester beat Ipswich later in the evening, meaning even a victory for us over the Gills wouldn’t have been enough to see us qualify for the knockout stages.

Rodel – known as ‘RJ’ – fired one of our best chances over the bar on a chilly night in Kent but, clearly disappointed at the final outcome, underlined how valuable it was for he and our other young professionals and scholars to have gone toe-to-toe with senior teams from the Football League in a competitive environment.

“As a team we can definitely look back on the last three games and say that we’ve learned,” said the forward, who led the line throughout our group stage campaign. “It was a tough game against Gillingham, they were organised, very direct, they got crosses into our box and made it hard for us. It’s important that we understand the key things in football – stopping the crosses, putting crosses into their box and also the physicality of it. That’s something that in time we’ll get used to.

“My chance (the shot over the bar at 1-0) was one of the better ones that we had but I think I just took it too quickly and I was a bit off-balance.

“Over the three games we’ve improved as a team, we’re much more dominant on the ball and have improved physically as well – in terms of competing in games I feel like we’re getting stronger.”

After moving up from the Under-18s at the end of last season, RJ has been the main striker in our Development Squad this term, while also featuring twice in the Under-19 UEFA Youth League. He returned from a three-week injury lay-off to lead the line once more at Gillingham.

With three goals to his name so far – one in Europe and two in the Premier League 2 – he admitted he hasn’t set himself a concrete target for the season, but would love to break double figures if he can continue to develop.

“It’s been really good to be able to play as many minutes as I have. That has really helped me,” he said. “It’s good to be able to contribute and help the team week in, week out, but I need to keep improving, keep listening to what the coaches say and hopefully we can get some better results as the weeks go on.

“If I’m honest, I have to keep working hard with my goalscoring and see how it goes. I’ve been trying to get into the right areas and as the season progresses I’m going to see if I can get over that double-digit mark. It’s important to learn, have the right attitude and give everything – that’s what I plan to do.”