Youth coach encouraged by first-up showing

An unlucky loss first up, but plenty of promise for the season ahead.

That is the scenario for the Southern United youth side.

A 93rd-minute goal snatched a point from Southern United in its national youth league opener on Sunday.

Josh Larking buried a goal for Team Wellington to give it a 2-1 win with a minute to play in Wellington.

But Southern coach Cam McPhail was ''really stoked'' with his team's performance.

The young Southern side, which had eight players on debut, created several chances and led 1-0 at halftime thanks to a Cam Anderson goal.

Players had been together for only three weeks before the season started.

But they had worked hard in that time and McPhail was pleased with how it had come together.

For him the result was secondary, though.

His team had players throughout the league's age range from 16 to 19.

Helping them move on to the senior team remained the goal.

''My focus as the head coach is to do my best to help the lads develop,'' he said.

''The goal is to see if we can develop to a point where either soon, as in this year, they can move into the men's team, or for some of them, especially
the younger ones, they can have a good season with Southern United youth and push into the men's team in years to come.''

Coming off a successful season in which the team finished fourth last year, he knew the importance of points to some of his players.

It was important to remember the side had changed since then, although he hoped results could come as a result of working hard.

Having ''played a bit myself... I know the lads are pretty determined to get good results and win football games.

''As a coach, if we can do things right on the training pitch and help them develop and improve as players, hopefully the result will come.''

McPhail said the biggest adjustment for the players was the speed of the game.

Decision-making had to be much faster and players had to learn to know what they were going to do with the ball before they got it.

On a personal level, McPhail was enjoying his role as head coach. He had been the assistant coach to Terry Boylan last year.

He was looking forward to the rest of the season.

That begins with a tough challenge against the defending champion on Saturday, as Southern hosts Auckland City at the Logan Park Turf.

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