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Stone: We've Worked For That

Hard graft pays off as U23s extend unbeaten run with 3-0 win at Bramall Lane

30 September 2019

Steve Stone felt his players got their just desserts after working over-time on the training ground.

The Under-23s extended their unbeaten start to the season with an impressive 3-0 win at Sheffield United.

A headed double from Rob Harker and a stunning strike from Adam Phillips made it three wins out of four – with dropped points from a 1-1 draw with league leaders Nottingham Forest the only recent blemish on their record.

And Stone revealed the graft behind the craft as his side moved up to second in the U23 Professional Development League.

“We worked them incredibly hard in the last week,” said the Under-23s’ boss, whose side is undefeated in nine games in all competitions since the start of the season.

Harker goal.jpg

“They probably did their most distance ever in a week and we did that on purpose to make sure they didn’t get complacent after what they’ve done so far this season.

“The Forest game was one we thought we should have won, and players can start to think ‘we’re going okay, we’ve done well, we’ve made it’. I had to make sure they didn’t think like that.

“That’s why I worked them hard last week and I made sure this performance was a really important one for the mentality of the group.

“The players are all exhausted and when you play a Premier League game you come off the pitch like that.

“They have to understand that’s how hard you have to work for a Premier League match. It’s incredibly difficult and I’m trying to get them ready for that.”

Both Harker and Phillips claimed their first goals of the season with frontman Harker also benefiting from tailored training at Barnfield and Philips showing the kind of class that earned him England youth honours.

Phillips Celebration.jpg

“We’ve worked on heading technique with all the forwards and Rob’s worked incredibly hard,” added Stone.

“He’s been really focused and dedicated and they’re his first two goals of the season, which is brilliant.

“I’m pleased for Adam. He’s put the hard yards in and he’s been around probably one of our best players this season; his organisation, his passing and he understands the game.

“It’s always nice for a midfielder to get any goal, but it was a special goal for us. It was a great strike and it’s something he’s very much capable of.

“We would like to see more of that from him, but in terms of his overall performance, that was back to him today and what we’re looking for.

“The lads did brilliantly. They stood up to the challenge, the physical challenge and the concentration that needed to be there.”


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