Under 20’s co-manager Neil Oliver offered an insight into his relationship with first-team manager John Coughlin following a fantastic 1-0 win over table-topping Stirling Albion earlier this week.
“It’s great to see John attending our games. I’m certain it gives all of the lads a real boost before the game, and of course it gives all involved the opportunity to impress.
“John generally gets in touch on the Sunday or Monday prior to a game and he’ll let me know who I’ll have from his squad. He’ll sometimes give loose instructions, so he might want to test a player in a different position, or set an amount of time for the player to feature.
“But the rest; the tactics, team, shape and anything else is up to me, so really he’s leaving me to get on with it, and those are really the parts of the job I enjoy so it’s great in that respect.”
It appears the logistics of the relationship are helping the team to success on the park, with the ‘Gers, who featured club captain Jonny Fairbairn in the heart of their midfield, defeating table-toppers Stirling Albion on Tuesday night at Shielfield courtesy of a late Dean McConnell header.
“It was another tough game against a physically strong team. In addition to their physical presence, the pitch was very poor. As tends to happen at this time of year, it was quite dry and bumpy and that makes a big difference to the quality of short passes from both sides.
“Going in goalless at half-time, I have to say I didn’t think there wasn’t much between us. That said after the changes, I think Stirling looked the more dangerous team.
“But thankfully Mark (Walters) produces a fantastic penalty save, and Dean’s goal, though perhaps against the run of play, helped turn things around in our favour, and from there I felt we managed the game superbly.”
“The difficult pitch can cause players to lose confidence on the ball. They play safe and begin to go longer and that’s understandable. But what I did notice was how well the first-team boys handled the ball. They clearly looked after the ball better, and it was great to be able to point that out to our younger lads and stress that this is the level they’ve got to strive towards.”
Although the result strengthened the ‘Gers claim to 4th, Oliver refused to set a position to target this season, noting his interest in good performances over league position – but did note his desire to see the ‘Gers maintain their winning form.
“I like to watch good, attractive football played along the ground, and I also enjoy winning games. Hopefully we can continue to do that in our remaining games this season and finish the season on a high – whatever happens, I feel we’ll have made great progress in the space of a year.”
Next up for the Under 20’s is another home clash this Tuesday coming against bottom-placed East Stirlingshire. Neil revealed his plan for the game is to avoid complacency.
“We have to treat every game the same, so whether it’s Stirling Albion or East Stirlingshire, we’ll be treating them like the league leaders.”
Admission to the match is £4 for adults and free for U16s, with kick-off 7:45pm.