It was an opening-day to remember for Coventry City Under-18s on Saturday as they stormed to a comfortable 3-1 win over Colchester United on the road.
Gary Mills' young side took the lead in Colchester before being pegged back on half time, forcing them to show character and fight to secure the victory.
Ben Blakely opened the scoring for City, before second-half goals from Rylie Siddall and Jayden Smith ensure that their 23/24 campaign started in celebration.
Speaking after the game, Mills praised the mentality of his group, who will be looking to build on their opening-day win when they take on QPR next weekend:
On the performance and result:
Yeah, really pleased with the mentality of the group. Pre-season has been tough, and that's been by design. We wanted it to be tough, not necessarily from a physical point of view, but more from a mental one.
We've been putting the lads in an area where they're uncomfortable. So, when it comes to the game on Saturday, we have moments where we had to show a lot of resilience and a lot of togetherness and the lads came out the other side with it with a positive result and performance.
On the goals:
I thought the game was quite even in the first half. We work a corner and Conrad Ambursley did a great bit of magic and squared it for Ben Blakely to score, to go one-nil up just before half time and you could say it was against the run of play really, they had a couple of opportunities but it was pleasing to go one-nil up.
Then we conceded at half time: we tried to play a straight pass that got intercepted and they went and scored. Then we went two-one up through Rylie Siddall. It was a fantastic goal, he cut in from the right and went past one or two players, and put it right in the top corner. That was a fantastic goal, an individual goal. He showed a bit of individual brilliance there. Then the third goal was a really good team goal.
We've worked on really being brave, really painful through the thirds. It started off with a goal kick, we bounced into a midfield player that bounced it out to the centre-half, which allowed him to step in, it then went into the frontman and Charlie Finney with a great ball for Jayden Smith to run on to score the third. It was pleasing, that goal especially because it's something that we've worked really hard on in preseason, being good on the ball but being progressive and playing through the thirds so that was really pleasing.