UNDER-21 head coach Glyn Hodges deemed himself satisfied with his side’s performance on Monday afternoon after they picked up a 2-1 victory away to Middlesbrough.
The win, which was secured courtesy of strikes either side of a Boro equaliser from former Portsmouth defender Alex Grant and forward James Alabi, lifted the team up to 10th in the Barclays Under 21 Premier League table.
It also continued the development squad’s unbeaten run since the turn of the year following a 1-1 draw at Sunderland and 2-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in January and Hodges revealed to stokecityfc.com that he was content with the display.
“I thought we were very good in the first half and it was probably the best we have played all season because we knocked the ball about really well and went a goal ahead,” Hodges revealed.
“Perhaps we should have extended our lead but when you are playing away from home and dominating the game you expect a response from the opposition and that’s exactly what we encountered in the second half.
“I thought our reply however was really poor to be honest and we did our best to give the game away because the lads didn’t really understand what they needed to do which caused us a few problems, but to come round and win 2-1 though was pleasing.
“I thought Middlesbrough’s goal could been avoided but the response from the lads after conceding was fantastic and all of a sudden we kicked back into gear and had two or three chances towards the end before James Alabi grabbed us the winner.”
The former Wales international reserved special praise for Alabi following his second goal in three games since his return from loan spells with Mansfield Town and Forest Green Rovers this season, but wants to see the forward hit the back of the net more frequently.
“James is always a threat and we’re working with him to score more often. He gets a few single goals but I want my strikers to score two or three during matches,” he said.
“We’ve had George Waring score four against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the season but apart from that the others have only scored singles.
“It would be nice to see James get a few more goals but he was in the right position to score the winner against Middlesbrough so we will take that.”
The Under-21s now turn their attention towards Manchester City a week on Friday and Hodges says his team will head into the match looking to claim all three points to try and cement their position in the top half of the league.
“We’ll set up to go and win the game,” he added “we played them earlier in the season in the Under-21 Cup and although we lost in extra-time I was reasonably pleased with the performance and in the end it could have easily have been us who went on to win the tie.
“We showed in that game that we can compete so we will be looking forward to facing them and will take a bit of confidence from our last three results.”