“We said to them at half-time – ‘play high, right up against them’”: Neil Ross’ reaction post-Stockport County victory

Neil Ross enjoyed his U19s’ high pressing which he believes led to their goals as they beat Stockport County in their opening pre-season friendly.

Instructions to keep the front three tightly compact he believes were followed with forward Modou Bojang and attacking midfielder Jared Felix netted the goals in a second-half turnaround after a 1-0 half-time deficit.

“First-half I thought we started a bit slow, first 20 minutes, sat off them a little bit. I think maybe a little bit of fear, bit of nerves, first game together. But I think once they realised they closed them down and pressurised them, they could actually win the ball back, they could win the ball back high and they could create some chances so overall – buzzing with them

“We said to the two wing-backs – ‘you’ve got to play higher’. Their wing-backs played quite deep but in the first-half the balls going out to them and we were 10, 15, 20 yards away at some points and by the time we got there to close them down they’d just play it round us. So we said to them at half-time, play high, right up against them and don’t let them play out from the back. And they did and they [Stockport] ended up going long and the defence was squeezed up, no gaps really between defence and midfield.

“I think defensively they were good, I think they were good all the way through. Obviously new for some of them, first time they’ve really played at this level so a couple of times we weren’t closing down as we should of, closing down angles, but generally, they got it and you could see by the chances we creates when we won the ball back and we did what we needed to, and they did what I asked them to do, they won the ball back and created some chances and then second half I think we just bullied them, hence why got the two goals and won the game.

“We told Bojan and Saidi as a front two to go no more than 10 yards apart from each other, Jared needs to be sat in that hole, he’s the creative one in this group, he’ll create a chance out of anything so he needed to get on the ball a little bit more which we didn’t really do in the first-half but second-half we seemed to find little pockets, then Jared started to pick it up and that’s where the goals came from.

Ross outlined his rotation plans for the U19s who play two matches in two days next week beginning on Monday, hosting Bradford City with a trip to Buxton on Tuesday.

The FA Youth cup match on the 1st September is for the U18s, something the manager contemplated for the selection vs Stockport County.

“There’ll be loads of rotation. The lads that weren’t involved today will be playing on Monday and then there’s another game […] probably look at putting this same squad [as today] out again. It gives everyone an opportunity. We haven’t got our squad yet for the FA Youth cup so everyone’s got an opportunity to force their way in there.”