U23s Season Preview With Jon Beale

14 August 2017
Jon Beale wants to see his Under-23s make a positive start to the new season in their Professional Development League opener away at QPR on Monday afternoon.

The Tigers have enjoyed back-to-back impressive campaigns at this level, with third and second place finishes in 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively, also going on to finish as national runners-up last season following a 3-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the play-off final.

With a third season at Category Two level set to get underway, Academy Manager Beale insists further improvement is the target for his side.

“I don’t think we started the season particularly well last year and that is something we want to change this time round,” he said.

“We were very up and down and yo-yo’d quite a bit. It wasn’t until midway through the season that we really got a good run of games and obviously if we perform well then the opportunity for results is there for us.

“We’ll go to QPR with that mentality and the big thing for us is to make the play-offs again as a minimum. It’s not an easy thing to achieve because that means we have to finish in the top two which is no mean feat.

“We finished third two years ago and second last year. We were probably a bit disappointed not to win the league last season having been in a position to do so but it wasn’t meant to be.

“We did well though, finishing second and getting to the play-off final. We’re pushing for what will hopefully be one step further than what we achieved last year and make it third time lucky for us!

“We’re all aware that that’s what we want and we want to go one step further than we did last season and that’s the target.

“For us to do that then everyone has to be switched on and making sure they’re having the influence on the team as well as they can – that’s players and staff.

“We’re prepared to put that out there at the start of the season that that’s what we want. It’s a bold statement but one I’m confident we can achieve.”

Beale was pleased with the way his players have prepared for the new campaign, and is keen to see their hard work over the last six weeks come to fruition against QPR.

“Training has been very competitive and the lads have really worked hard on a daily basis,” he added. “I’ve had no issues in terms of training and how they’ve applied themselves.

“We finished pre-season with a really positive performance against Aberystwyth Town on Sunday and that is a really good way to go into the season.

“It’s usually the last game of pre-season that you have some idea as to what the possible team might be on Monday. You want to see everything you’ve worked on come to fruition and see certain patterns of play in our game.

“It was pleasing to see for the full 90 minutes on Sunday. We’re in a good place ahead of QPR and we’ll see where we go from there.”

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