Charlton Athletic U18s defender Naz Bakrin spoke to Valley Gold after the recent 2-1 win at home to Cardiff City.
The 16-year-old centre half cites his composure and calmness on the ball, foot speed and tackling ability as his strengths and told Valley Gold:
“In the first half, I feel in possession we were quite messy and erratic when we had the ball. Cardiff were pressing extremely high so we needed to be calmer when trying to break the press and recognise when the team needed to rest and retain possession. In addition, I felt we could have recognised how they were pressing and realised we could have played through the press as we had more numbers in our favour. When we did play through the press we got into a lot of good spaces and had good success at times when switching the ball to the opposite side of the pitch.
“The first goal of the game went to Cardiff, they played a ball in behind our defence which we failed to deal with, pinched the ball off us, played it across the area and finished it well.
“Out of possession, we were very loose and as a team indecisive as to whether we were pressing or holding our positions. We allowed their two centre-halves too much time and space on the ball. I feel that the defensive line could have been higher but due to there being no pressure on the ball we had to drop deeper than we needed to. The midfield was being caught in between, not knowing whether to drop or to press so it left a lot of gaps in the middle of the pitch.
“I feel at times in the first half when we did decide to press we won the ball back well and as a result, scored our equalising goal from it. Jeremy Santos applied good pressure and intercepted a loose pass back to their centre back. Jeremy was then left 1-on-1 with the goalie, whom he rounded to finish into an empty net.
“Our build-up play improved after the break but we still could have switched the ball better so as to not get trapped down one side of the pitch. We didn’t have great control of the game with the ball going back and forth between the two teams. We were careless at times with sloppy passes and clearances which gave Cardiff some openings.
“It was a very scrappy and hard-fought game that needed greater passing sequences in order to assume control. When we did achieve that, we looked a threat going forwards. We were much better out of possession too and won the ball back in very high areas. The defence was high and the pressure we applied forced them into making errors. I feel that Cardiff began to play a lot more longer balls as a result of our approach and we dealt and stood up to their threat well.
“Our winner came through a James Beadle clearance. Mason Burstow competed well for the header and Richard Chin latched onto the loose ball. This time it was Richard who was left 1-on-1 with the goalie. He saw his initial effort saved but luckily the ball fell to him kindly to put in the rebound.”
The 2-1 win sees Charlton’s U18s third in the table.
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