We learned a lot - Crook

PUBLISHED: 11:25 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:31 10 September 2010

Ian Crook believes City's young players learned one of football's harsh lessons at London Road - but insisted they gained more in defeat than they would have had in victory.

Ian Crook believes City's young players learned one of football's harsh lessons at London Road - but insisted they gained more in defeat than they would have had in victory.

City opened their campaign last week with a facile 5-0 win over Southend, but were on the receiving end yesterday, although City's second-string manager said the result meant little in the bigger picture.

"It was good for a few of the young boys today to see what it takes, and like I said in the dressing room afterwards I really don't give a monkey's about the score. It is about learning for those boys and I think a few of them today probably learned it was perhaps a tougher game than what they thought," said Crook.

"I preferred that to last week where probably after half an hour the game was dead and buried and you don't maybe learn a lot about things.

"Today we did - we learned a lot and I think the players learned a lot. The one thing I will say, and I will defend them to a certain extent, is that we have done no work yet, we haven't had them together as a group."

Young central defender David Stephens won't come up against many better strikers than Shaun Batt, who tied him up at times, and while Crook will see the benefits of a difficult test for a player who been in the first squad team recently, there was also the performance of goal-scoring winger Josh Dawkin, who is further down the pecking order, to be admired.

"Big David will learn - he has played against a big lad today who has a lot of games under his belt at a decent level," Crook said.

"Josh in the second half was really positive in possession. We just said to him, 'we don't mind how many times you give it away as long as you're being positive and having a go at people', and he caused them trouble.

"That is a real positive to come out of the game, and his goal was a really good finish after a good little ball from Wes Hoolahan as well."

Hoolahan had more of a free role in the second half after Cody McDonald was subbed, clearly suffering the effects of a cold.

"Cody was really struggling," said Crook. "We probably should have brought him off a lot earlier, but Cody is Cody - he ran around and tried and sometimes you just can't tell, but he wasn't in a good state today."

City had just four players on the bench, and no goalkeeper, but Crook said there was nothing suspicious in the absence of Michael Theoklitos.

"He worked today with (goalkeeping coach) Paul Crichton and stayed with the first team and worked with them," said Crook. "There genuinely was nothing in that. We thought it was better that way. We took a risk."

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