As our young Blues gear up for the upcoming campaign, Under-21s head coach Mark Robinson gave his thoughts on how his players are doing...

Our Under-21s have had a mixture of results against varying opposition in pre-season so far but one thing Mark Robinson has maintained is that he wants his players to start as they mean to go on and that entails ensuring the standards of the team do not drop.

Despite some defeats, there have been promising performances which show a side looking to make a strong start to the upcoming campaign.

Our last two games have seen us win games against Brentford B and Ebbsfleet United and Robinson was pleased with the performances.

'Our performance against Aldershot was disappointing individually and collectively and you obviously want to see a response,' he says. 'Their reaction was excellent and we played some really good football throughout the game, scored some excellent goals and could have had more. For the first time this pre-season we had a maturity about our play throughout the game.

'The goals we conceded were too soft but our reaction to both of them was very good. Ebbsfleet are a very good side with a lot of experience. They have had some strong results this pre-season so it was good to see such a strong performance from us.'

Our first game against age-group opposition was an emphatic victory against Brentford B and their only goal came through one momentary lapse in concentration at the back. Robinson was impressed by a number of players and singled out Dylan Williams especially.

'After a very good performance against Ebbsfleet United, it was important that the players showed the same behaviours with and without the ball against Brentford B. We started with excellent intensity. We dominated the first half with the only blemish being the conceding of a soft goal and not taking more of the many chances we created despite going in 3-1 up.

'The second half was really pleasing as it was clear they would come out with extra aggression but we dealt with that and after 15 minutes got back into our flow and killed the game off. There were many excellent performances and I never really like to single any one player out but I thought Dylan Williams was outstanding in everything he did.'

There were two defeats against Barnet and Aldershot. Robinson drew positives from the former but spoke of his side's need to do better in regard to the latter.

In reference to the 5-3 defeat against Barnet, he said: 'When you lose a game in that manner and concede five goals it is very easy to lose sight of the positives but with a very young starting 11 there were lots of positives in the first half. We played some good football at times created good chances and there was plenty to be pleased about individually.

'Against good standard men's sides you may get exposed physically at set-plays and first and second balls. That is what happened for all their goals. As they mature physically it is our job to educate them to deal with this real aspect of the game which they will face at all senior levels.'

He also mentioned that despite facing tough National League opposition, his side must do better in general to compete and do the basics well. Robinson, speaking about the Aldershot defeat, said:

'That was the most disappointing of all our performances. Despite taking the lead we never really got going and looked disjointed. It's understandable as we are changing players every game to get the required minutes but we cannot put in a display like that if we want to win games. The boys have responded well with back-to-back wins but it is important that we remember we are not the finished article and there is room for constant improvement.'

Our Under-21s play their final game of pre-season against Phoenix All Stars Academy on Saturday 5 August.