Learning the game at Budleigh Salterton
- Credit: Archant
Young players developing experience with every game
A youthful Budleigh Salterton will enter the resumption of football with manager Dan Carthew focussing on the development of game management.
The Robins possibly have the youngest squad in the Devon Football League and, while that bodes well for the future, it does mean an obvious gap in experience.
Over the first two months of the campaign, Carthew has identified a need to learn quickly if Budleigh are going to compete against sides with a greater depth of football knowledge.
“We are a young team and a lot of players taking their first steps in adult football,” added Carthew.
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“The average age of our side is probably around 20 or 21 most weekends.
“The experience of gamesmanship and how to manage games is not at the same level as some of the teams we play against.
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“We’re looking at ways to implement that knowledge.”
One specific area the Robins are working on is defending from set-pieces.
A lack of height in comparison to other teams does represent a challenge and a threat when crosses come into the box, but Carthew believes a stronger strategy of distraction could reap reward.
Size matters in football.
But, there is a solution for the smaller player when challenging for an aerial ball with a taller opponent and that comes from ensuring you prevent them from getting a clean header. It is skill that comes from practise, experience and determination.
“We are not the tallest side in the world and that does present a challenge, particularly against teams with big players,” he said.
“We have to adapt our game to protect that side, while also emphasising the areas where we are stronger.
“It is about bringing out your strengths and hiding your weaknesses.
“Giving away free-kicks in needless areas or conceding corners is something we can work on.
“I do get nervous in games when we concede a set-piece but there is also no excuse for not defending properly in those situations.
“As a player, you have to defend the goal and attack the ball.
“If we do that, we can compete. “We’ve been spent a few sessions working on how players can improve their defensive play when it comes to high balls into our box.
“It is a work in progress.”
The work in progress will be given extra time, as Budeligh have no fixture scheduled for this weekend.
The Robins were due to play the University of Exeter but the students have postponed their fixtures, given the understandable concern around potential Covid cases on a confined campus.
It is a further break that will give Budleigh some additional preparation, with Carthew hoping to arrange a friendly on Saturday or Sunday.
There is also a bonus when it comes to training, as the players are moving to an artificial surface for these winter months, when the weather can often throw all plans into disarray.
One area of concern, however, is the opponent after this weekend, as Braunton have cancelled their game with Exmouth Town and were next on the list for Budleigh.
“We were due to play the University of Exeter on Saturday but I believe their games have been cancelled,” said Carthew.
“It could be a bonus in some sense because we get some extra training time, which has obviously not happened during lockdown.
“We will be moving to an artificial surface for the next couple of months, which guarantees us training time.
“Facilities are open for training on Wednesday night and the plan is to arrange a friendly this weekend.
“Our next game will technically be away to Braunton, depending on the tier system.
“The lads will certainly be chomping at the bit, particularly with other teams playing league games on Saturday.”
As it stands, the fixture schedule is showing a trip to Chudleigh on December 19 and a chance for Budleigh to increase the gap on a side one place below them in the league.
The New Year begins with a visit from Clyst Valley, who are also below the Robins and a massive opportunity for Budleigh to build some winning momentum. It is then two tough games against Newtown and Exwick Villa. Points on the board is the Budleigh mission and growing experience with every game.