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INTERVIEW: John Dempster talks Under-23s PDL victory

Dempster spoke about the semi-final and final...

13 June 2022

Sky Blues coach John Dempster reflected on the Under-23s successful 2021/22 campaign, which saw them lift the Professional Development League.

The Under-23s finished the Northern section of the PDL in second place, earning their spot in the semi-finals, where they saw off Ipswich Town after extra time.

That victory set-up a final against Bristol City, where the 23s came away with a 3-2 win to pick up their first Professional Development League title.

Looking back on those final two fixtures, Dempster spoke about the character and resilience the group showed.

“It’s been a long hard season for the Under-23s.” Dempster said.

“The group is forever changing because you have lads going out on loan, others performing to high standards and being involved in the first time set-up and then you have first team players dropping into the group to get minutes and they’ve had lots of experiences throughout the whole season.

“I think those experiences ultimately helped us in the semi-final and final and the resilience and character the players showed in the semis, even when they were dead on their feet in extra time, was a pleasure to watch.

“Then, in the final we started like a house on fire, and we took Bristol by surprise and going 2-0 up gives you a real good chance to go on and win the game, but even then, they came back at us.

“When they got the equaliser the lads didn’t let their heads drop and they came back out again and to get that winner was what they all deserved and it was a fitting way to end the season.

“Also, I’ve got to give credit to the football club because we had brilliant preparation going into the game. We had the first team coach to travel down in and we stopped in a lovely hotel before making our way to Ashton Gate and the whole feel of the day made you feel confident.”

The Sky Blues came up against the Robins weeks before the final, where they suffered a disappointing defeat away from home.

However, that result gave the Under-23s food for thought which helped them a second time round coming up against Bristol City.

“We played Bristol City a few weeks before the final, so we knew how competitive they are, and it probably did us a favour because we got to see their strengths and weaknesses.

“The players wanted to prove themselves against Bristol and to have the chance to do that in the final, it gave that added motivation and the players had a real focus heading into the game.

“Throughout the whole professional development phase, we know we can score goals and it was great to see that and I think over the course of the fixtures, I think we were worthy winners.”

The final’s winning goal was scored by defender George Burroughs, who got a touch on the end of Jay McGrath’s shot.

George has risen through the ranks at the Sky Blues and Dempster saw it fitting the defender was the one to score the winning goal.

“There has been a lot of hard work that has gone into the group over the years and George Burroughs is one of those players that has been in the system from a very young age.

“And it’s fitting for staff members past and present to see him score the winner, it was the cherry on top of the cake.”


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