Reserve Reflections

Dunfermline faced a challenging afternoon at The Falkirk Stadium on Tuesday, suffering a 5-2 defeat. Despite the loss, coach Greg Shields acknowledged Falkirk’s superiority while reflecting on the missed opportunities of his team:-

“Albeit we had good opportunities at important times, we didn’t capitalise on them. Just after half time Taylor Sutherland had a chance, Mark Beveridge had a chance to level the game and two or three minutes later they went down the other end and score. Although Falkirk may look at it as good goals from their point of view.”

Learning Curve

Shields’s post-match feedback with the team focused on defensive intelligence. “The discussion was about clearances, being smarter defensively and winning your individual battles as well,” he added. 

For the younger players, the match was a learning experience. “I know that the younger ones play a different system in the 18s, coming into the reserve group was a little bit of a challenge for them. Second half they got to grips with it and were better defensively which was pleasing.

Praising striker Taylor Sutherland who is currently on loan to Bonnyrigg Rose, Greg remarked, “We got into a few good areas, with Taylor especially. Taylor caused problems all afternoon just they way he turned, half turned and kept driving at players. He probably could have scored four or five. He got his two goals, they were excellent and he played his part today. He was very lively and he was on song. He was good for everyone of our players to look at in terms of how he went about it.”

Response to going behind

Dunfermline were 2-0 down inside the first quarter of an hour and goalkeeper Max Little had already been called upon to save an early Jordan Allan penalty. Greg agreed that the heads could easily have got down but the team fought their way back level before the 30 minute mark:-

“It was a great save from Max for the penalty. We went 2-0 down early because we didn’t start the game right. We came into the game and actually we caused a lot of problems in the area between their midfield and their defence. We were driving into it and we had options. Mark (Beveridge) was unlucky before that when he was offside. 

“There were moments when we could have capitalised and we never but that’s part of their development. In that area the hardest part is to finish. Although we are getting there we just need to keep the goals out.”

Value of Reserves

Such is the nature of reserve team football one never knows what kind of level of experience and strength teams are going to field. Teams can include first team players in need of a game or coming back from injury or they can be made up of young boys who are coming up against older players for the first time. Greg felt that reserve football is invaluable for the younger players’ growth:-

“They go from the 18s into a first team environment. The gap is massive and to come in and play in a reserve game today against so called more experienced players, that is part of the next step. To have experienced players playing against them is how you get better. I said to them I will look back on this game and remind them of it.”

Their response and progress after such games is crucial in preparing them for tougher challenges ahead.  In conclusion, Greg remarked, “How they move forward is important, at 18s we can’t always have it all our own way all the time. There will be a few bumps in the road with them. Some will come through it, some won’t but as I say that’s why we do it and that’s why we want them to play in the reserves, to expose them to this and stress them out.”

Match report: Falkirk Reserves 5 Dunfermline Reserves 2

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