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Leivers: A difficult week

8 November 2016

Notts County's head of academy coaching Dan Leivers says the youth team have had "a tough and disappointing week".

The young Magpies went out of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-1 defeat at home to Romulus a week ago before losing 2-0 against Mansfield Town in the league at the weekend.

Leivers said: "It has been a really tough and disappointing week this week. Firstly, going out of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night and then following that performance with a 2-0 loss to Mansfield.

"The players were really down after Romulus and we worked hard to try and turn things around. We reviewed the video with the players and tried to get them mentally prepared as much as possible to go and perform against Mansfield.

"We thought that we had managed to pick them up and, after a bright warm up and a good start to the game, I felt as though with a bit of patience we would be able to break Mansfield down. They are always a tough opponent to play against and won our league last season.

"I felt we were in control of the game in the first half but finding it hard to create chances. We were patient with our play and looked for openings but they just weren't coming due to their organisation and the number of men they had behind the ball. But this is something we have to be able to deal with and we became predictable.

"They started to get more into the game and started to get chances on the break. Eventually they got the goal and to be honest we never really got back into a rhythm."

The opening goal arrived just after the half hour when Nyle Blake collected a pass from Zayn Hakeem and slotted past Joe Searson-Smithard to give the Stags the lead.

Leivers continued: "The second half was frustrating to watch and all of the work we have been doing in recent weeks and all the positives from our recent league games just went out the window. The players struggled to come out of it and we made a lot of individual errors, which resulted in their second goal."

It came from Blake again, the striker this time racing through a gap in the Notts defence to beat the onrushing goalkeeper and find the bottom corner for the second time in the match.

Despite the result, the young Magpies still sit 2nd in the EFL Youth Alliance North East table and are eight points behind the Stags, albeit with two games in hand over their local rivals.

Nonetheless, Leivers' side have enjoyed a strong start to the season and the head of academy coaching hopes that the players can use a free weekend to refresh themselves and come back stronger from the recent setbacks.

He said: "I'm still confident that we have good players and good players don't disappear overnight. What is important is that we stick to what we believe in and with the continued support of the first team staff, who have been great in this difficult period, we will continue to work hard and produce some good footballers for the first team, which is what we are here to do.

"We don't have a game this week so its a great chance to regroup, work hard on a daily basis to improve and look forward to the rest of the season."

Notts: Searson-Smithard, Cobain, Dunn, Ebanks (Campbell, 60), Richards, McCartney (Bugg, 85), Osborne, Brownhill (Gibbons, 85), Robinson, Howes, Towers (Clayton-Naute, 60).
Sub not used: Hall.

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