PL2 preview: Joe Haigh on work put in to improve; plus news of a defensive recruit

With a huge clash against Manchester City in Premier League 2 this evening, midfielder Joe Haigh spoke with us to highlight team cohesion being at its peak and how he and his team-mates trust that it will bring consistency in positive results...

The game will be live streamed exclusively via our digital platforms on our website and mobile app, with kick-off at Kingsmeadow slated for 7pm. The young Blues are seeking to bounce back from their most recent loss in PL2 against Crystal Palace, which came a week ago in a narrow 3-2 reverse. 

All losses are hard to take but considering the circumstances of the game last week where we created chances, controlled the game but failed to ultimately win, that can mentally be tough for any group of players, let alone our youngsters as they still develop and mature. 

However, we were able to catch up with young attacking midfielder Haigh who reflected on the team using these defeats as fuel to come back stronger, underlining the importance of the team's cohesion as well as the guidance of the coaching staff.

Team togetherness

'I think we are slowly making progress,' Haigh responded to a question about the team's performances this season. 'We are gelling and that can be seen in the football that we are playing. 

'The aim will always be to try and get more wins but we can only do that if we are all on the same page and that is why I give huge credit to my team-mates and the coaching staff for ensuring this is the case.

'We do deserve better results based on our performances but we have to keep applying the things we are being coached on and the results will follow.'

Personal growth

With 11 PL2 appearances under his belt so far this season, the England Under-19 international has also scored three goals, netting in back-to-back games against Leicester City and Crystal Palace.

'I too have made steady progress this year and it is good to see my hard work is paying off,' he continued. 'I'm an attacking midfielder and I will be judged on the goals and assists that I can provide for the team, so any way I can support the team through scoring or assisting more is my main goal.

'The coaching staff have helped me a lot to be in the right place at the right time and I think that is what is helping me to get into better attacking areas.'

He went on to add that 'Mason Mount is who I think I am most similar too and you can see that, especially this season, he is adding more goals and assists to his game. Personally I believe I can follow his path and I strive to achieve what he has achieved and more.'

Our opponents

Haigh will be pushing for a start against the Citizens, who currently sit in second place, two points off the top of the table. We come up against a City side who have scored 11 in their last three matches, emphasising their good form.

However, they have conceded 27 goals this season, which is four more than the tally our young Blues have given up, meaning there is an opportunity for us to pose a threat and gain a positive result.

Head coach Andy Myers will be preparing the boys for a tough test which will see us attempt to nullify the threat of the PL2's assist leader Oscar Bobb (seven) and James McAtee, who combines for 17 goals and assists in PL2 this term, the joint-highest.

Last time out

In the most recent meeting between the two sides, we suffered a 4-1 defeat away from home back in September. Despite birthday boy Harvey Vale scoring early for us, we conceded four with no reply and so will be looking for retribution as the home side in this one.

Having drawn with Manchester City at home and away last season, our last PL2 win against them came in the 2019/20 season when we triumphed 2-1. Tariq Uwakwe and a Nathanael Ogbeta own goal did the job for us that day, with the game featuring the likes of Billy Gilmour, Tino Livramento and Tariq Lamptey.

Focus turns to the present as we look to secure all three points in today's fixture against Manchester City and tickets are still available to be purchased on the website.

Manchester City's last five PL2 results:

Manchester United - (h) - won 3-1
Blackburn Rovers - (a) - won 5-3
Brighton & Hove Albion - (h) - won 3-1
Tottenham - (a) - lost 3-0
Leeds United - (h) - won 3-2

New signing to the Academy

In other news, we have completed the signing of 18-year-old left-back Dylan Williams from Derby County. The teenager made his senior debut last season for the Rams and has added a further eight senior appearances this season under Wayne Rooney, with six coming in the Championship.

Williams will join our development squad ranks and is eligible to make his debut in this evening's fixture against City.

How to watch

Tune in live on our official website or mobile app just before 7pm for all the action live from Kingsmeadow!

Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online here until 3pm today (Monday) priced at just £5 for adults and £3 for concessions. Tickets can then be purchased in person at the Kingsmeadow ticket office on matchday, subject to availability. Please note, only card payments are accepted.

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