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Club News

Russell Milton's weekly look at the Robins' Academy

16 January 2015

This time of year always brings about the added problem of finding places to train, once the bad weather sets in.

Some weeks we get torrential rain and the pitches are flooded, others we have freezing temperatures and the ground is frozen. Both scenarios present problems, not only in where to train but how much you can do in training.

Obviously with pitch space at a premium in bad weather, training can become limited as area size is reduced. Team play and tactics sometimes have to be sidelined or at the most given a limited amount of time to work on.

You then have to maybe look at more individual or unit work with the players and bed some more basic principles of the game into them. This is no bad thing as the game is about repetition and being about to do things over and over again successfully, especially with young players these basics: defending, attacking, shooting, passing and heading all can have extra vital work put into them during these times.

We also have to rely on the availability of 3G and 4G astroturf pitches from the local schools or colleges and their allowing us to get on them. In particular John Finnigan at Winchcombe School, All Saints Academy and Hartpury College have been most helpful in recent times in giving us space and time on their relevant pitches.

This is maybe something we will look to implement in the future at Seasons but for now this is what we have to do. When we went abroad with the Under-18s to Holland two years ago, the Willem II coaches couldn't believe we didn't train on astroturf pitches.

Their game is very technical, ours is getting there, and they felt that you needed the best possible surface to get the best out of these type of sessions. I could see their point.

For me if you have good quality grass pitches then that is what you should train on as that is what you play on. But the key is getting and maintaining the quality in the pitch throughout the season. Without the necessary time and money spent on them that is difficult, particularly for a club like ours.

Saturday's game against Swindon Town will be on the astro at Winchcombe School, so despite conditions it's a chance to get some real quality to the play.

This will be the last game in the SW section of the League, in early February the next section of the season will start with us playing against sides from the South East.

Conditions last week dictated that we played on astroturf away at Plymouth. Our football between the boxes was excellent where we outplayed the opposition, but in both boxes left a lot to be desired.

We needed up on the wrong side of a 6-0 scoreline but no word of a lie it could have been 10-10. If ever a game stressed the importance of what happens in and around the 18 yard box, this was it.

Kevin Hodges, the Plymouth coach, said it was a real smash and grab for them to be 3-0 up at half-time and the second half was no different. With us having an inexperienced goalkeeper in too, the crucial moments tended to go against us, so there were lessons to be learned.

One big plus was the 30 minute return of Jamal Lawrence after nearly three months out with hamstring problems. Let's hope he can stay fit and start pushing for senior football in the not too distant future.

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