Greg Shields Reflects on Reserve Side’s Performance against Dundee

Dunfermline Athletic’s reserve team faced a formidable challenge in the Reserve Cup as they took on Dundee, a match that ended in a 5-1 defeat. Despite the unfavorable scoreline, coach Greg Shields found several positives to take away from the game, emphasising the value of this experience for his younger players:-

“We were giving a lot away in terms of age – three or four years is tough at this level. It is certainly a learning curve for our younger players, but that is reserve football. The gap from under 18s up to reserves football is big, the next gap up to the first team is even bigger. It is probably a good experience for them to compete against teams they don’t play week in, week out.”

In the face of adversity, Greg acknowledged the superiority of their opponents, Dundee, highlighting their physicality and strength on the field. He said, “You always want more as a coach, you look at the goals, analyse them why and how, but ultimately Dundee was better than us. They were stronger and more physical in most departments. The age gap was huge, but there were a few good performances in there.”

Shields found solace in the performance of certain players, particularly Jake and Taylor Sutherland (pictured above), who showed their attacking prowess. “We scored a really good goal – great movement from Jake in the box, a good ball from McLeod in behind, and Taylor being Taylor picked out his man, and it was good stuff. That’s what you see game in, game out with the Sutherlands. Their pace and power to get beyond is fantastic; they are a real threat.”

However, the coach also acknowledged areas that need improvement, specifically in their possession play and defensive skills. “It is the pieces behind that we need to do better. The type of pass, the weight of the pass – everything was in front of them, and they struggled in possession. We didn’t defend the goals as well as we probably should have. As I said, it is part of their development.”

One remarkable aspect of this game was the presence of four fifteen-year-old players in the squad, a testament to the youth and talent within the Dunfermline Academy. Greg expressed his appreciation for the younger talents who were given the opportunity to compete against Dundee:-

“Credit to the ones who came in because they have done well with the 16s, and they deserved an opportunity to come in. I go along to their games, see them, and by doing well against Hibs at the weekend, they were given an opportunity against Dundee.”

Above: Max Little and Miller Fenton
The age of the squad is undeniably a factor, with Greg acknowledging that many of the players are still quite young. “It is tough, there is Max Little, he is the one along with Sam Young and Miller Fenton who seem like they are the older players in the team, but Max is only 21, Miller is 20, and Sam is only turning 18 in January. The squad is very, very young, but there are a lot of positives there.”

Shields concluded by expressing his optimism and contentment with his young squad, acknowledging that their experience will ultimately help them develop:-

“I am happy with them; it is tough watching it at times, but I remember myself as a youth player stepping up into that reserve squad; it is a big step. The more games you play, the better you become, and the more experience you get stands them in good stead as they go forward.”

While the result may have been disappointing, Greg Shields remains focused on the long-term development of his reserve team, emphasising the importance of these learning experiences and the potential they hold for the future. The footage of the game will be analysed, areas for improvement identified and there will be fine-tuning to the young players performance to continue their journey in reserve football.

Match Report: 07/11/23 Dunfermline Reserves 1 Dundee Reserves 5

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