Dunfermline Athletic

Young man, there`s no need to feel down

Wednesday, 25th Jan 2023

Sam Young out of the Woods and on to the park

Last Friday afternoon Sam Young was playing an important role in securing a win for Dunfermline U18s over Ayr United U18s at the Michael Woods Centre in Glenrothes but on Tuesday night he found himself starting for the first team in the Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park, Dundee.

Although he started the SPFL Trust Trophy match v Celtic B in November, his manager, James McPake felt that this was Sam’s proper debut against senior players. Lined up against him in the opposition were young players previous coached by James - Harry Sharp, Josh Mulligan, Max Anderson, Lyall Cameron and Finlay Robertson. A clear message to Sam that his gaffer is committed to developing young talent.

It was a cool, calm and collected Sam who spoke after Tuesday night’s match but behind that was an extremely excited young man who was satisfied to have made a good contribution to the team’s effort against a side from a higher division:-

“I was just buzzing to be in the team, it is a huge step up from under 18 football to first team. To come out, start and play against a very good Championship side, it was a great experience.”

The contrast was in terms of pace, physicality and skills but he summed up the difference:-

“Everything about it. The boy I was playing against was quick, strong, everything you expect from a man. I really enjoyed it. I thought that I did the best that I could, maybe a few things wrong but you expect that because I have not been in the team like that against very good sides as well.

“It wasn’t my debut, Celtic B were a good side but coming out against a proper men’s team was definitely more of a challenge. I had plenty of experience around me which is always a help. When you have got folk like that who are quick and been playing at that level for a while, obviously it helps you out.”

Sam was disappointed that Dundee got in for the first goal:-

“It felt like it was a foul on Kyle Benedictus but we could still have got back to deal with it. We bounced back pretty well and made it 1-1. The second half was the second half but we move on now, it’s on to the league.”

Above: Sam Young in debut v Celtic B

Sam came off in the ninth minute of the second half and some might claim that it all went wrong when he went off. He looked further than his own performance:-

“You could say that but I just feel like if you switch off from a corner you can be punished. For the rest of the game we were just chasing after a goal leaving three v two at the back which is pretty exposed. Losing goals happen, there is not much you can do about deflections.”

Coming through the DAFC Academy, Sam is a local lad who attended Dunfermline HS and started his football at Bayside FC. He only turned seventeen last week, although he doesn’t expect many first team starts soon he added with optimism:-

“You never know, we’ll see what happens. I feel that I did myself proud on Tuesday. We had a long game on Saturday with it going all the way to penalties. For the manager to still give me a chance was a great opportunity. Even Andrew Tod coming on at the end and getting an assist, it is great to see.”

Post match Kyle Benedictus praised the performance of his young defensive partner:-

“He was brilliant and he was having such good a game, when I saw Aaron coming on I thought ‘that’s me coming off’! Credit to him, he was very composed out there, I see it every day in training and he has a very bright future in the game. At his age I was a nervous wreck out there but I will help him as much as I can.”

James McPake’s belief in youth at Dundee shone through in the opposition and that boosts Sam’s hopes under him at Dunfermline. He noted:-

“They have got some good youngsters in their team with plenty of experience around it. It was a good side that they put out against us. Hopefully James can bring us along in the same way. He is a great manager and I think that he is very good at bringing along the younger children and pushing them on to first team level.

“James is definitely not scared of giving young ones opportunities. He says it is on merit, you have to earn your place in the team which I got told I did before the game. It was just a great opportunity.”

Although the club went out of the Scottish Cup and the SPFL Trust Trophy Sam has another chance of silverware in the Youth Cup. After disposing of Morton and Alloa Athletic, Dunfermline travel to the Excelsior Stadium on Friday night (KO 19:00) to face Celtic. Sam closed:-

“It’s a very big game for me on Friday, big one for us and even the whole academy. I hope that we can just go out and put in a performance to take us through to the next round.”

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