Millwall Under 23s manager Kevin Nugent has delivered an upfront assessment as his side’s eight-match undefeated streak was put to an end by Colchester United at The Den on Tuesday afternoon.
The visitors went in at half-time with a shock 3-0 lead, after going two up in the first seven minutes – before Rob Harvey and Isaac Olaofe reduced the arrears to 3-2 in the second half.
Nugent admits the first-half display was not what he expected, and describes the game as a ‘learning curve’ for the young Lions.
“The first half was probably the worst we’ve played all season, for whatever reason that was,” the manager says.
“I’m sure the players didn’t go out there with the mindset of having a poor attitude, but that was certainly how it looked early on.
“But it’s a good learning curve for these lads – we’d gone eight unbeaten, but if you think you can go out and do your own thing, then football has a tendency of kicking you up the backside. That’s exactly what happened in the first half.”
Following a much-improved second period, The Lions cut the deficit to a one-goal margin, even having chances to go on and take points from the match.
“I was pleased with the performance in the second half. We could still have gone on to win the game,” claims Nugent.
“Nothing was changed tactically. All that changed is that we worked harder, pressed the ball quicker and played with intensity.
“Overall, I wasn’t happy with the performance – but the second half was certainly an improvement.”
The half-time interval brought the introduction of teenage striker George Alexander – son of fondly-remembered Millwall striker Gary – who has been in encouraging form for both Nugent’s team and the Under 18s.
“[George] is a good young player. He’s coming through, so we’ll be dipping him in and out at the moment.
“He still has to learn the trade as it were, and he’s doing very well in the youth team which we’re more than happy with, and when he’s come in for me he’s also played very well.
“There’s a lot of development still to come for George, but he’s a good talent.”
The Under 23 side – second in the Professional Development League this season – will look to bounce back in a local derby next Monday against Crystal Palace, at their Copers Cope training ground.
“We can absolutely come back against Palace next week,” Nugent says.
“But equally, the manner of the Colchester defeat was more concerning for us, which is a case of learning. The second half was much more pleasing, but these boys will have to learn from their mistakes pretty sharpish.”