Kenny Swain reflects on how his players can learn from Thursday's draw with Northern Ireland.
England U16s v Northern Ireland U16s
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.45pm, Thursday 11 October 2007
England U16 Head Coach Kenny Swain was positive in his thoughts following the draw with Northern Ireland in the Victory Shield on Thursday evening.
The Young Lions looked likely winners when Jason Banton netted a late goal to put Swain's team 2-1 in front, but when England failed to fully clear an even later free kick into the area from Northern Ireland, they were forced to learn the hard way by conceding a stoppage time equaliser.
However, it was the first game together for this particular group of players and as Swain admitted before the game, results aren’t of great importance at this stage of the players' embryonic football careers.
“There were some good things in the game which we did well,” admitted Swain after the match.
“But there were some poor things as well, particularly set plays which ultimately led to their equalising goal at the end.
“We started the game well though, before they came into it a little bit more and were eventually on top, so we needed half time and then to come back out and start as we did in the first half.
“The boys responded and we began the second half well and started to control the game midway through the second half.
“We got the goal, which was deserved but then let them back into it.
“When we scored at the end, I think perhaps the lads thought we had won the game, but we failed to deal with the set play and have conceded.
"The lads will take experience from that and learn from it though and it's all part of their learning curve as with any young player.
“You know that when you’re working with young players at an early stage in their development, it can often be like a roller coaster ride, and that’s certainly what it was like tonight!”
Swain also gave credit to the visitors from Northern Ireland, who showed great determination to draw England back not once, but twice.
“We give credit to them,” added Swain.
“They played some good football and I thought they were as good a side as we’ve played against at this level.
“There was a great spirit about them and they did play well.”
The next game for the U16s comes on November 2 when Wales are the visitors to the New Bucks Head Stadium in Telford and after seeing encouraging signs from this squad in the week leading up to the match, Swain is ready to look at a mainly different set of players for that game.
“The lads have got better and better in training all week,” admitted Swain.
“It’s never easy for them to come into a new squad, to play with different players, but we did some good things out there in our first game.
“For the next match, it will be a different group of players but that has nothing to do with how this game went as we have a large pool of talented lads in this age group and it’s about all of their development.”