THE Young Brewers extended their EFL Youth Alliance winning run to five matches with a 2-0 win against 10-man Notts County.
Mitchell White was the man to apply the finishing touch for both of the goals in their opening match of the new year, the first an acrobatic volley and the second a smart first-time finish from a low-cross.
In doing so he and the team successfully avenged the two-goal defeat suffered away in mid-September to the Magpies.
That defeat appeared to still be on their minds as it didn't take long for the side to blow off the cobwebs and for White to fire them ahead with a fine overhead kick.
The goal came minutes before the visitors were reduced to 10 men, after Ciaran Gilligan pressed Morgan Mellors and successfully won back possession before bursting through on goal only to be brought down by his opposite number.
Mellors was adjudged to have committed a professional foul by denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and was duly dismissed nine minutes into the match.
Professional Development Phase Coach Sam Rose confirmed as much: “The quick start was what we emphasised to the players. Last time we played Notts they moved the ball well. We didn't get tight enough to them, we didn't tackle, and we didn't put them under enough pressure.
“Today we said we needed to correct that and for the first five minutes we were in their faces, on the front foot and scored while it was still 11 v 11.
“It was a good goal. I don’t think they’d got out of their half. A neat little throw-in, we’ve set it back, crossed it and then an overhead kick to finish!”
The Young Brewers looked to take advantage of having a man extra, with Jack Holmes and Tom Hewlett going close soon after before Notts were handed a lifeline on the half-hour mark.
Following a collision in the area at a corner, the referee deemed there to be a sufficient contact for a foul and pointed to the spot.
Notts captain Kieran Cummings stepped up to take the penalty but saw his effort well saved by Teddy Sharman-Lowe.
The goalkeeper was returning to under-18 football this afternoon, having been part of the first team squad for four matches over the festive period, and Rose went on to praise his progress after the match.
“Teddy's now very much part of the first team setup on matchdays, he's essentially the third choice at the moment,” he confirmed. “And we hope that continues.
“He’s got potential, but so has the other goalkeeper Nathan Smith. We’ve got a pair of really talented goalkeepers here and it's just the nature of the game that only one of them can play, but they’re pushing each other.
“Teddy's doing okay, there's obviously lots we can still work on with him and he needs to keep his feet on the ground.”
Into the second half, the Young Brewers continued to push for a deserved second goal, with Said Idouarab and Holmes twice testing the opposition goalkeeper Bill Harrison.
Five minutes after the restart, some good work down the left saw a cross fizzed low in the direction of White who made the perfect connection to double his tally for the afternoon and put his side into an unassailable lead.
White couldn’t quite make it a hattrick, the best of his chances coming when, after riding a challenge in the area, his shot from a tight angle agonisingly trickled wide of the far post.
It would remain 2-0, a scoreline that the Young Brewers appear particularly fond of, this result marking the fourth straight win by such a margin at St. George’s Park.
Speaking after the match, Rose was particularly pleased with the result and performance, having given his side a fortnight off during the festivities.
“The lads had a good Christmas break, and deservedly so. We asked them to keep busy over the period and the physio [Ben Saunders] did a lot of work with them around what they were going to do while away from the club for two weeks.
“But you never really know, do you? They’ve not played a lot of football for a long time and, when you're in every day, 14 days is a long time not to be kicking a ball about.
“We trained yesterday and looked bright. We did a fair bit of work, so I was expecting them to be a little bit tired anyway and I think it did show, we were a little bit rusty.
“But it was a great win and another clean sheet too. It was difficult playing against 10 men because you never sort of know what to expect. They went for it in the second half a little bit and left a few players up, but we needed to be better with the ball and probably should've scored more than we did. But we’ve won another game 2-0, so it’s all good!”
Rose finished by continuing his praise for Sharman-Lowe, and the rest of the squad, as several members of the squad are now entering the tail-end of their scholarships.
“He's one of hopefully a number of the players that are going to kick on at the end of this season, and another one that we've managed to take so far and get involved with the first team as we have done for the last nine or 10 years.”