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Blues U23s Beat Plymouth in Central League

Rush twice on target as Hopper completes 65 minutes in 2-1 win at Home Park

15 October 2019

Blues U23s picked up another three points in the Central League, their second win in as many games, with a 2-1 victory away at Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.

Matt Rush got both goals, the first assisted by Tom Hopper who got 65 minutes under his belt, to ensure Blues remain top of the table

And U23 Manager Craig Fagan was pleased with the reaction from his side after half-time

"It was a good performance on the whole,” he said. "We played quite well in the first half, it was just disappointing how we conceded the goal before half-time.

"I said to the centre halves, information wasn’t taken on and that’s the little details that can be the difference for the lads which is at stake now between the first team manager taking a chance on someone.

"It’s them little details of picking someone up earlier, and if they’re right we go into half-time 1-0 up and it’s a different game then.

"But to be fair I said that at half-time and asked for a reaction which I got to be fair."

Rush was included on the bench at the weekend for the first-team, and he showed his quality with two different types of goals.

"He worked well with Tom Hopper up front," Fagan added. "The first goal was more direct, which wasn’t just a flick on in hope from Tom, he was actually trying to find Rushy which was good. And then Rushy has lobbed the goalkeeper.

"His second one was more of a team goal. We worked on patterns and keeping possession in the week and it paid off in the game.

"Rushy has always been capable of scoring goals, even when I was coaching him in the U16s, but he had more on an affect on the game, not just with his two goals, which was good."

Fagan also praised Hopper, who showed his class for the second time in a week for the U23s.

"He has that bit of experience.

"As the game is going on I’m obviously coaching but you try to tell the other forwards that are on the bench to watch his movement and look at the way he uses his experience to get fouls.

"He was really good. His attitude has been spot on, just the way he conducts himself and his enthusiasm to be out there."

There was also an improvement in Hopper’s fitness levels.

"The other day he got carried away in the first 10 minutes, today he looked like he had more in his legs,” said Fagan.

"He probably could’ve played more than 65 minutes if I’m honest, but we need to be careful. He’s been out a long time, he knew that when he came off, but he definitely looks fitter compared to last week which was good to see."

The win leaves Blues level on points with Peterborough in the Central League South standings, goal difference, though, putting them ahead of Posh.

"I know we had only played one game before today, but you’ve got to fight to keep your place [at the top].

"Questions were asked at half-time but they came out and earned the victory. People making tackles, recovering into positions, more desire to win was there to see today and don’t think Plymouth could argue we deserved to win.

"We held onto the ball a lot more in the final third instead of giving it back to the opposition which was good to see.

"As I’ve said before, it’s going to take time because the things I ask of the lads is maybe a little different to what they’ve been asked before, but as long as they improve every game they can push to be involved in the first team more."

Starting XI: Seaden, Howard, R. Taylor, Mitchell-Nelson, Clifford, Egbri, Stewart, Phillips, Kinali, Rush, Hopper.

Subs: C. Taylor, Brogan, Knock, Pianim, Acquah.

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