Craddock Sees Step Forward

‘B’ team boss Matt Craddock believes his young charges are making progress as they build towards a first season together.

The Whites will field a B team for the first time this season across a variety of Central League and friendly fixtures as they look to bridge the gap between Academy and first-team football.

Craddock’s newly-assembled squad – which includes seven signings from outside the club – has lost its opening two friendlies 1-0.

But the side’s head coach believes Tuesday night’s defeat at Bamber Bridge followed a better performance than the curtain-raiser at Atherton Collieries.

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“The pitch helped. The pitch is fantastic, so credit to Bamber Bridge for that,” said Craddock, whose side was beaten by a break-away goal 20 minutes into the second half during Wanderers’ best spell of the game.

“We did create more chances. We moved the ball quite well at times and switched played well.

“We created some good chances but with a little better decision making, a little better quality we make them into really good chances.

“I think we were a little bit unlucky to come away without having scored and a little bit unlucky having lost it, but overall I think it’s another step forward for the group.”

After two outings against Northern Premier League top-flight sides, the Whites will face National League North opposition next Tuesday night in the shape of Southport.

And Craddock is looking forward to the challenge of raising the bar again with the trip to Haig Avenue as his young players get to grips with facing more experienced senior sides.

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“I think the pre-season programme is a really difficult one for our lads but that’s what we want,” he added.

“We want them to be challenged. We want them to be pushed outside their comfort zone.

“We are learning a lot about the players at the moment. They’re learning a lot about themselves and this is what happens when you push them out their comfort zone.

“It gets tougher and tougher and the lads have to stand up to the task.

“Physically we’ve stood up to the tasks, which I’m really pleased about, because sometimes it can be a little nervy when you’re up against players who are five-10 years older than you.

“They’ve handled that really well but what we have to handle better is the tactical questions that are asked and we want to get to a point where they can solve those problems in action – rather than wait for the support of the coaching staff at half time.”

Pictures: Kevin Hayden

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