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Paul Harsley's October EDS review

EDS manager Paul Harsley looks back at the third month of the 2018/19 season.

Reflecting on what was a busy October which again saw us in action in three competitions, I think the squad have bounced back from a tough start in really positive fashion.

As a group we have again been tested but I believe all the players have responded in the right way.

We started off the month with our UEFA Youth League trip to Hoffenheim and went over there looking get our European campaign up and running after our first defeat but, unfortunately, it went the other way and we ultimately ended up losing out 5-2.

It was a very similar game to our home game to Lyon. We gave two silly goals away at the start which made it an uphill struggle but then got back to 2-2, then missed a great chance to go 3-3 and ended up chasing the game and conceding two goals in injury time which skewed the scoreline in their favour.

It is difficult when it goes against you like that but we are trying to be brave and bold in our approach.

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We then had to wait more than a fortnight due to the October international break before returning to PL2 action at home to Chelsea and, again, it was a difficult match for us. We played relatively well but our Achilles heel was dealing with Chelsea's counter-attacks and set-plays as went down 4-1.

However, we then really got going after those two setbacks. We resumed our European campaign away at Shakhtar Donetsk where we fought back from having a player sent-off and going behind to claim a 1-1 draw through Taylor Bellis's late goal.

Although it wasn’t the result that we wanted, it was a great response from the lads and got us a vital point on the board under difficult circumstances.

Even so, all the lads were devastated not to have won after the game. Not that I want to see that it was reassuring to see how much not winning the game hurt them.

And I think that experience served as a turning point because, as a group, we really kicked on after that in terms of results and performances.

We finished off October on a roll. We went to play league leaders Everton  who fielded a really experienced team featuring first-teamers James McCarthy and Mason Holgate at Goodison Park.

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We were really pleased with our work that night even though we were edged out 1-0. We conceded a penalty after two minutes which on reflection should have been a free-kick to us but we played really well and as a group gained so much from the game.

Then we wrapped up the month away at Tranmere Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy which has been a fantastic tournament for us.

We dominated the game, creating a host of chances, and secured a deserved 1-0 win through Rabbi Matondo's goal which put us into the knockout stages and the lads were over the moon with that.

I think reflecting on the season as a whole so far, we all had to find each other out. Back in July it was a new set of coaches working with a new set of players and we didn’t really know each other.

We've also had injuries to contend with, but it seems like the goals have stopped going in and we are getting some bodies back and collectively the squad have come through a lot of challenges. 

We’ve now got some massive games coming up in this block of games ahead of Christmas. Lyon away and Hoffenheim at home will determine if we can get through to the knockout stages in Europe so we will just see how it goes and look to carry on building.


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