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Central League Reaction: Chris Hargreaves Reflects on Victory over Forest Green

The Development Squad Manager gives his take on his sides Central League victory over Forest Green Rovers.

12 September 2018

The Development Squad picked up three points on Tuesday afternoon to begin their Central League South campaign with a victory.

Fielding a strong side that included several first team players, it was a brace from Mo Baghdadi and a neat finish from Alex Jakubiak that helped Chris Hargreaves' side race to a three-goal cushion in the game.

A late headed goal from Lee Collins reduced the winning margin, but the victory for the Development Squad was in no question during the closing spell of the encounter.

The win at Stanley Park sets the Development Squad on the right path with back-to-back home games against both Cheltenham Town and Luton over the next fortnight to come.

Speaking after the game, Hargreaves praised the first-team squad players for complimenting the younger members of his squad in what was a comprehensive win.

"I was really pleased with the performance and to get off on a winning foot this campaign," said the Development Squad Manager.

"It was also good to get some of the first-team lads some minutes, with some of them playing forty-five minutes and others players almost an hour, so that we pleasing as well."

"It was an all-around, good performance and the result will breed confidence as we kick-start of a busy period of games for the Development Squad.

Chris had the bonus of selecting seasoned EFL professionals such as Stuart Sinclair, Joe Martin and Joe Partington for the encounter with Forest Green, but pinpointed how he expects his side to match the success they enjoyed last season, where they lifted the Central League South title.

"Sometimes, with the availability of some of the first-team players not known, it may alter plans and next week against Cheltenham may be a different prospect entirely.

"It's a good start to our league campaign. We were so disappointed not to progress in the Premier League Cup and our sole focus is now on the Central League and ensuring we reach the same standards that we set ourselves last season."

Mo Baghdadi bagged a brace in Tuesday's Central League win, as the winger looks to expand on his handful of EFL appearances in the first-team towards the end of the 2017/18 season.

Chris explained that he was pleased how Baghdadi was able to find the goalscoring touch - but admitted he expects more from the talented winger in order for him to push for a first-team spot.

"Mo obviously played well and took his two goals in good fashion. I was a little disappointed with him during the first half and he knows that because the standards have to be so high if he wants to be challenging for a first-team spot.

"He never gives up and works his socks off during games and topped that off with scoring two good goals.

"It's a measure of his character that he came in and apologised for his performance after the game - even though he scored two goals!

"He knows that he has to do a little bit more to knocking on the door of the first team."

With players keen to impress in the Central League fixtures, Chris was buoyed by the selection of players at his disposal, after adding only a handful of players to his outfit over the summer.

The likes of Cameron Ebbutt and Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist came off the bench on Tuesday and impressed - with Chris relaying that members of his squad may once again go out on loan to gain valuable competitive experience.

"We have some good players that were unfortunate not to start the game.

"At this stage of the season, the players know that if they are not getting the game time they require, then there are opportunities to go out on loan.

"We have a lot of bright players in the Development Squad setup and it's promising for the future looking forward."

The Development Squad face Cheltenham Town U23's at home next Tuesday in the Central League. Details of the game will be made available in the near future.

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