Neil Ross’ reaction post-Ilkley Town: “they’re managing the game on the pitch”

Neil Ross’s U23s scored four but the manager was as pleased with his players’ “maturity” off the ball which led to a dominance of possession as well as a clean-sheet in their victory over Ilkley Town on Monday night.

“They’ve got to manage it their self,” explained Ross. “They can see who they’re up against, how the games going, if they all need to go and press then they all need to go and press. If one can sit and the other two need to go and press, they need to manage that. I think the maturity of the players, especially in today’s game showed you they’re now slowly turning to men in terms of the way they’re thinking and the way they’re managing the game on the pitch – really impressed with everyone.

“We emphasised tonight on working as a unit, closing down so if one man was good to go, then everyone else went as well and I think that was really effective, certainly in the second half in the top end of the pitch.

“I told Keano just to sit in front of the back four, get on the ball and make us play from there. Duncan and Mitch had more freedom to go and join in with the three up top. I knew that Keano, once he gets in that position, he can get on the ball and dictate play. Everything went through him in the first half.

“We dominated all over the park. I think first 10, 15 minutes we really set our stall out. Good passing, one touch stuff, and I think midway through the first half, we started to get a bit sloppy, lads thought it was going to be easier than it actually and then going in and trying to do difficult things but once we got back in the second half to playing simple balls – we looked brilliant.

“I think physically and testing our players in a more senior competitive game […] when we come up against U23s teams, you can just see the difference in our group to theirs”.

The U23s’ season is expected to start in the next couple of weeks while Neil Ross says depending on that start date then there may be another friendly before.