GRAEME MURTY tonight praised his young side for doing a “good job in tough conditions” against Slovan Bratislava in the UEFA Youth League.

The Light Blues were superb in defeating the Slovakian outfit, and they will take a two-goal lead to the second le in three weeks’ time.

Speaking to RangersTV tonight after the victory at Firhill, the Head Development Squad coach said: “The boys did a good job in difficult conditions. The pitch was very, very slick and I thought they managed that very, very well.

“I thought they managed our opponents throughout the 90 minutes really, really well and our only slight frustration – and it is only slight, is that we didn’t punish them a little bit more.

“I think we could have been a little bit more clinical and put some chances away because some of our play was really good.

“Some of our combination play in their final third was excellent, though we weren’t clinical enough. The guys know that and they are a little bit frustrated by it, but I thought we were the better team over the piece.

“I was a little bit frustrated at half-time as I didn’t think we were accessing the areas of the pitch we practiced.

“It sometimes happens with young and senior players that they get into the game and they kind of want to do what they want to do rather than the areas that we talked about.

“I thought once we accessed the other side of the pitch better, we isolated opponents better, though I thought in the first-half, Kai Kennedy in particular was really, really good at seizing opportunities to drive into good spaces and his combination with Dapo and his play in and around the box is very, very good and is a very high standard.

“I thought he played very well tonight and we just needed that extra touch at times because of the surface and that killed our combinations at times.

“But, as I said, once we started to play with a little bit more fluency and a bit more understanding, I thought in the second half we showed a really good bit of control and the only nervousness for me at the end was a set piece.

“I thought because they are a big side we could have got done, but I thought defensively the guys were outstanding today.

“We put it on them a little bit and questioned them about it, and I thought they handled the scenarios we put to them really well today.

“So far play to the kids. They stepped-up and they could be having an easier time in Slovakia – but it makes it interesting for the game so I am interested to see what mind-set our guys bring.”

Looking ahead to the second leg, Murty added: “We are 2-0 up at half-time – it’s that simple. It’s a massive cliche and really boring, but the guys need to know how to manage their energy, they need to know how to manage their opponents as they are going to come for them a little bit more in the home leg, and we are going to be in their stadium as well, so that is something else for them to manage.

“We say to the guys, if we have good structure and good quality and the guys demonstrate their understanding and the knowledge of their jobs, then they are in with a great chance.

“So they have put themselves in a good position – not a great one – but a good position to progress through and it is how we then manage that.

“We don’t want to be a team that sits back too far as I don’t think we are a team that suits that. We need to get the balance right and that will be something we are reiterating to the guys – making sure we get the balance between having an attacking edge and making sure our structure is correct and we minimise their opportunities.”

 

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