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INTERVIEW: John Dempster Sheffield Wednesday Reaction

Point keeps Sky Blues in play-off contention…

22 March 2022

Sky Blues Under-18s coach John Dempster gave his thoughts after earning a point away to league-leaders Sheffield Wednesday.

The Under-18s Professional Development League title race has been closely contested between the Sky Blues and both Sheffield sides - United and Wednesday - and a point against the latter kept City hot on the toes of the Steel City tandem.

Dempster assessed yet another tough opposition and praised his side for coming away from the game with a valiant point.

“We knew it was going to be a real challenge because last week we played top of the Southern League, Charlton, in the semi-final and we managed to beat them, but the following week it was another challenge playing Sheffield Wednesday, who were top of the Northern League.

“Two completely different games but two difficult oppositions, Sheffield Wednesday are quite a big side with good athletes and were quite direct as they’ve got some quick attacking players, so we knew our defenders and goalkeeper would have to be at their best for us to get any points.

“Luke Bell was excellent he made some crucial saves and the back three were very good. Cal Perry was the outstanding defender, although they all did well, but for an Under-16s defender to step up and be Man of the Match that was one of the most positive things that came from the game.”

As another game passes for the Under-18s, another clean sheet follows and is becoming quite the occurrence for the young Sky Blues - only conceding once in their past five games.

Dempster commended the backline and ‘keeper, valuing their efforts just as much as any goalscoring contributions.

“Of course, getting the clean sheet against top of the league is a difficult thing to do, so although the game lacked quality at times from both sides, we were pleased to leave Sheffield Wednesday with a point and some good individual performances.

“We’ve got a lot more clean sheets than previous years which is good because it shows that the goalkeeper and backline are doing what is asked of them, but it’s all of the team, the midfielders and the attackers that help to win the ball back and we have been very good at that this season.

“When we lose the ball, we try and win it back as quickly as possible and if we can’t do that we recover to our shape and until this point we’ve been really solid.

“If your attackers are having an off day and not taking their chances, you need your defenders to be at their best and when you get clean sheets that helps the team pick up points which is always good to see.”

After the weekend’s proceedings, the Sky Blues find themselves sat in fourth position, but only three points behind now league leaders Sheffield United, who leapfrogged their City rivals by a point.

With a cup final against Ipswich Town at Portman Road still to come, Dempster affirmed his side are still very much within touching distance of the top two play-off spots and looked ahead to the upcoming fixture against Crewe Alexandra as an important milestone.

“It’s a real close league at the top.

“The top four can all potentially win the league or come second, which would mean you progress through to the play-offs and if we keep picking up points between now and the end of the season I’m sure we’ll be in and around it.

“We’ve got a cup final to look forward to and the players throughout this season have developed and will hopefully continue to develop until the end of the season and that’s the most important bit.

“Crewe are always a good footballing side, we beat them 1-0 away from home earlier in the season but the conditions were awful, the game was close to being postponed because of a water-logged pitch, there was a real downpour in the middle of the game.

“Hopefully the conditions are better at home and hopefully it’s a good footballing match because they’ve got a real history of producing great young football players and I’m sure they’ll have some talent on show that we’ll have to go up against and prove our worth.”

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