Radhi Jaidi sang the praises of his young charges after watching them dismantle Stoke by four goals to one in the PL2 on Monday night.
Strikes from Marcus Barnes, Thomas O’Connor, Michael Obafemi and Callum Slattery sealed a third consecutive win in all competitions for Saints U23s, and given their coach’s reaction at full time, it was the most pleasing of them all.
“The boys put in a great performance tonight,” he said from Stoke’s Clayton Wood training ground.
“From the start, we set the tone and we sent a message to the opposition that we are here to play.
“We created chances, scored the first goal and that gave us the confidence to carry on and keep digging and keep working for each other.”
The story threatened to be a very different one when Tyrese Campbell rose highest to head the hosts level just after the hour but Saints rallied within minutes before taking the game beyond the reach of the Potters in scintillating style.
“When you play away from home, you know that it isn’t going to be easy. We kept that in mind from the start and maintained that level of focus throughout the game.
“What we showed tonight was that we are resilient: despite the disappointment of conceding the goal in the second half from a soft set play, the reaction was really quick to score and get back on top.
“The boys sent a clear message to everyone that we have a team who can compete at a high level.”
No moment epitomised Saints’ sterling work in the Potteries than their third goal, a superbly worked move involving Obafemi, Will Smallbone and Jake Hesketh; the culmination of all of the pleasing elements of their play.
“Even before the third goal we had a couple of openings that just didn’t work out. The movement of the front three, including Hesk, is a tremendous strength for us in occupying the back four. We created chance after chance and the goals came at the perfect times to kill the game.
“Next, we have to keep improving and progressing and showing what we are about. I think we have great quality, a strong team ethic and character so we just need to keep doing the same things for the coming games.”