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'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly'

New U23s' boss Steve Stone sees plenty to work with in opening win

19 November 2018

Steve Stone enjoyed an eventful start to his reign as the Clarets’ under-23 boss as he saw his new side let slip a two-goal lead before clinching a dramatic injury-time winner over Nottingham Forest.

Burnley came out on top of a seven-goal thriller at the Tameside Stadium to extend their unbeaten run to six games and go, for a few hours, to the top of the Professional Development League’s northern section.

And Stone admitted he had been shown plenty of signs of encouragement – and areas to develop.

“I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, if I’m honest,” said the former England international, who is a week into his post at Turf Moor.

“I’ve seen what I thought this team is about.

“It’s got incredible talent, in terms of some ball players, it’s got some incredible heart, in terms of defensive responsibilities, and I think it’s got some naivety which was glaring in all aspects of the game.

“Every single aspect came out, and that’s good because I’ve got a lot to work on.

“I’ve seen similar to that in the few games I’ve watched, but that’s why these are young boys who need to be taught these lessons.

“We’ve already started work on what we are going to try to do and grow very slowly, week by week, month by month, to try and improve them.”

The Clarets went behind early on but with 20 minutes gone were 3-1 up against the side that finished runners-up in last season’s competition.

Dwight McNeil levelled before a Tinashe Chakwana strike and own-goal from Forest defender Anel Ahmedhodzic put Stone’s men in control as they forced the visitors into errors and swarmed all over them in attack.

Former Forest winger Stone was disappointed his new charges didn’t put the game to bed at that stage.

But after conceding just before the break and seeing Forest level from the penalty spot with just over an hour gone, the Clarets steadied the ship following a change of formation and in a stirring finish took the points with Dan Agyei’s 97th-minute winner.

“What I was pleased with was with the game going away from us, how were they going to deal with it?” Stone added.

“It took them a while to find out and it took a change of shape with three in the middle of the park.

“We put Dwight inside there and that changed the game, in terms of our three midfield players are all very good on the ball.

“They still had chances and our goalkeeper (Adam Bruce) made a great save. But I thought we were the better side for the last 25 minutes.”

A facial injury to top-scorer Chakwana led to a seven-minute delay in the second half.

But thankfully, the 20-year-old suffered no major damage and with virtually the last touch Agyei sealed a victory which Stone believes underlined the Clarets’ strengths in a maturing team superbly led on the pitch by captain and centre-back Olly Younger.

“I have been around footballers a long time and I can sense things pretty quickly, with personalities and what they’re good at and what they’re bad at,” said Stone.

“There were an awful lot of positives to take away, in terms of what’s in that dressing room.

“I sense leadership, strong characters and I sense a team developing.

“You’ve got a team that’s playing for each other and some real counter-attacking talent.”

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