UNDER-18S head coach John Perkins praised his side’s performance at the weekend after they held joint league-leaders Everton to a 1-1 draw at Clayton Wood.
Tomi Adeloye’s first half strike gave the Potters a well-deserved lead, but the Merseyside club clinched a share of the spoils through a fortunate own goal midway through the second period.
Perkins was pleased with the point against the Toffees, particularly after going through a tough period recently in terms of performances and results.
“After the last couple of weeks I wanted us to get back to playing a better brand of football because I’d been a bit disappointed with our performances,” he told stokecityfc.com
“We’d put a lot of emphasis on trying to improve our levels during the week in training in terms of trying to play out from the back when possible and passing and moving which we did really well against Everton, especially in the first half.
“We are not a big, physical side but a talented young group who want to play the ball on the deck and pass it properly and I thought we did that as well as we have done throughout the whole season.
“I thought our movement and passing through the lines was very good and it therefore allowed us to create chances and score an exceptional goal after a fine passage of play.
“Our first half performance was very good but obviously as you progress sides are going to cotton on to you and will try and stop you from playing.
“As I said to the lads it’s then about playing the same style but with different types of movement and making yourself available in other areas of the pitch.
“They certainly provided us with a stern challenge and I think our lads deserve great credit for their performance against a side who are one of the best in the league.”
Perkins was also delighted to see England Under-18 international Sam Coulson continue his comeback from a long term injury and commended the defender’s attitude and professionalism.
“Sam has had a horrendous twelve months with injuries which occurred not long after playing for England’s Under-18s and holding his own,” he revealed.
“He’s had operation after operation and his mannerism around the club has been exceptional.
“I thought he did really well and I’m full of admiration for him in the way that he has conducted and presented himself on the pitch after so long out injured.
“Hopefully he can now go on and get more game time under his belt and do well in the future.”
The former Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers youth coach admitted it had been a hard season to date for the Under-18s due to fielding a very inexperience side.
However, he explained the emphasis is very much on development and that if a player is ready to move up to the development squad then he won’t be held back just to try and earn results.
“We are trying to bring it all together and play with a lot of first year scholars this year because obviously quite a few second years have stepped up to Glyn Hodges’ Under-21s group which is tremendous and I’m delighted about,” said Perkins.
“We need to get working with this predominately first year group and get them to play the way we want our football to be played here at Stoke City, both with and without the ball.
“With the present first years we always felt they were a talented group but to be perfectly honest a few of them have struggled to hit the heights we know they can achieve.
“It is understandable however because I always feel it takes them about six months to settle down.”
The experienced coach also revealed that a number of his group have not only been training with the Under-21s this year, but with Mark Hughes’ first team squad and he says it’s great to see a number of players being rewarded for their hard work.
“We are not a club with number and number of players stockpiled so there are opportunities for the lads if they continue to put in the effort and apply themselves well.
“We’ve had schoolboys like Oliver Shenton train with the development squad this season and Charles Weston-Hayles who is a first-year scholar involved with the first team a few days ago which is fantastic.
“You only have to look at players like Under-21 midfielder Charlie Ward who all of a sudden was released by Aston Villa last and came into the Under-18s and his attitude was magnificent.
“He’s worked really hard, played well for Glyn Hodges this year and then returned to Villa Park on Sunday and made the first team bench which was great to see.”