Darren Way

Academy Preview | Swindon Town (A)

Sync Fixtures

Darren Way’s Under-18 side are back in action again on Saturday – and back on the road.

The Young Pilgrims play Swindon Town in Youth Alliance League action at 11am, and manager Way is concentrating on the mental side of his players’ development as they deal with their busy recent schedule.

So far this season Argyle have won on the road at Cheltenham and, on Tuesday, won away at Leyton Orient in cup action. The long trip to East London and back came in a week where several of the players had the emotional journey of picking up GCSE results as well.

If the players want to become full-fledged Argyle players, then traveling is undoubtedly an aspect of footballing life they will need to adjust to.

Way is hopeful that the quick return to action is going to be something his squad can deal with.

“It is a quick turnaround,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of travelling. Psychologically, the players have dealt with the turnaround toughness really well.

“Players have to be mindful of their preparation. That’s a really big issue that players face, coming into the under-18s programme. What are you thinking about on the bus, on the way up, to allow you to go straight into a competitive mode? That can be tough, and it can take players time to adjust to that. I think, though, this group has handled that really well.

“The team have managed to concentrate for 90 minutes, and have put in a lot of effort, with a clean sheet mentality. That gives you a chance to win football matches.”

Another psychological hurdle to clear is the fact that Argyle have not fared particularly well in away games against Swindon of late. Darren is keen to change that, and explained the kind of development on the field that he wants to see.

“Swindon have been a tough test for us since I have been here,” Darren said. “I don’t think we have won away from home at Swindon. That’s a challenge that the players and the staff have set ourselves. If we are competitive and we work hard then I’m sure this group’s talent will come through. But we have to make sure the fundamentals are right first.

“We want the players to keep building on the relationships that they have formed within the positions they have been playing. We have one or two returning from injury, so there will be some team selection headaches, and it is important the younger players deal with that.

“I want us not to be passive in our defending. We make sure we look to win the ball back high up the pitch and early, then our talent will shine through. There are one or two within that team who can win you football matches, which is a nice thing to have.”

Season Tickets