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INTERVIEW: John Dempster Peterborough United Reaction

A return to winning ways for the young Sky Blues…

9 February 2022

The Sky Blues Under-18’s bounced back from defeat with a 3-0 win against Peterborough United, helping them to regain pole position in the league.

Having lost 5-0 to Barnsley the week before, City’s Under-18s found their groove again, with Sam Rodber at the double and Cal Perry sealing the victory.

Under-18s coach John Dempster sung the praises of his side, pleased with their response from the previous result.

“We’re really pleased with the players, after a heavy defeat against Barnsley last week, we asked for a reaction and a performance from the team and we certainly got that.

“There was some good individual performances, Sam Rodber got an early goal and then he scored a brilliant individual goal where he dribbled past three or four players and slotted it in the back of the net.

"It was pleasing second half to get the third from a set-play, one of our Under-16s scoring, Cal Perry, so that was very pleasing.

“Reece Massey was Man of the Match, he controlled things in the middle of the pitch and his decision making on when to play short, medium, or long was very good.

"He was probably the best player on the pitch on Saturday, he created for us and controlled the game at times, so to pick out one individual it would probably be Reece."

The result puts the Under-18s top of the table, albeit with chasers Barnsley having a game in hand, but Dempster admits that whilst results are the cherry on the cake, player progression is the most important for him.

“As staff, we are always looking at the individual and where we can improve players on their weaknesses and enhance them where they’re strong, but from the players point of view of course they want to win.

“They’re very competitive and that’s what motivates players, so we do put some emphasis on winning, but we’re also keeping a close eye on the players and getting that win on Saturday means the environment is a good place to be and they were smiling today.

"A lot of the boys were involved in the Under-23s game against Peterborough, so it’s good that it’s all joined up and the Under-18s are stepping up to play and be involved with the Under-23s.”

Being on the end of a heavy defeat last time out, Dempster shared his delight at the response from his players in the following week’s training and believes that determination carried over into the weekend’s result.

“Of course the players weren’t happy with the heavy defeat last week, but they reacted in the right way Monday to Friday and of course when you do that it can make Saturday a lot easier because you’re in that mode.

“It really surprised me how well they started, they trained brilliantly all week and it’s a learning curve that good teams do get beat, but good teams often react in the right way and do get a positive performance and result the next week and we certainly did that.”

Attentions now turn to the cup, with the league taking a back seat, as the Sky Blues take on Millwall in their next match.

Dempster reflected on what can be achieved this season, whilst previewing the trip to London this coming weekend.

“I think without being cliche, we do look at the fixtures and take one at a time.

"We’ve got a big game against Millwall next week in the quarter-final of the cup, it would be great if we could progress in that competition and of course when you’re up there in the league table you want to keep pushing until the end and finish as high as we can.

"I think the next few games will be key to that, if we can get a few more three points under our belts, we can finish higher than last season and the boys will want to be challenging for the play-offs, for sure.

“Millwall are in the Southern League, so we haven’t played them yet this season, we did have a game against them towards the end of last season and we managed to beat them, but of course it’ll be a different game, with different players on show.

"I know quite a few of their academy staff members and they’ve got a good reputation of being a strong footballing side, a team that like to get the ball down on the deck and score goals.

"It will certainly be a challenge for us, but we’re in a good place and we’ve only lost two games in the league all season, so hopefully we continue that form in the cup because in the group stages we’ve had some excellent performance and now its gone to knockout we hope to do the same.”


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