Wilmot: “It Gives You That Bit More Desire To Start”
Ben Wilmot waited until the morning after the game to reflect on his own individual performance and experience at Stadium MK against Tottenham.
The England youth international played in a holding midfield role, impressing as he picked out teammates with raking long-distance passes and showcasing his ability to break up the game in front of the back-four.
The 18-year-old admitted it was a great experience to play against some of the Premier League’s top players.
“It was a good test,” said Wilmot. “Seeing their players in the tunnel when we played them at home recently took the edge off a bit for me, because I’d seen them before so I wasn’t star-struck.
“It was a lot easier and it made me a lot more relaxed than perhaps if that had been the first time I’d seen players of their ability up close.
“It was good to play against a strong side and compare yourself alongside top internationals. Everything they do is that bit quicker, they are a bit stronger, they are clever.
“Everything is a little bit improved and you have to be focused all the time, because if you don’t focus for half a second they get a bit of room.”
A confident and composed performance from the youngster drew applause from the crowd for moments of individual skill - a switch of play or a good tackle - and Wilmot was pleased that he stood up to the challenge against Spurs.
“It was nice to play against a strong side and do well - it gives you a confidence boost,” said the versatile defender. “I know that if I were to get thrown into the league then I wouldn’t be fazed by it now. It's one I’m looking forward to more now that I know I’m capable of doing it.
“In front of such a big crowd - that was the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of by a mile - it was a good atmosphere and you want that every week. It does give you that little bit more desire to start.
“I think I had about 20 people there watching me. Friends, family, loads of people came so it was nice to do alright, it was just a shame that I had that many people come and we lost. I love playing in front of my mates."
Playing in midfield during pre-season and in the cup due to injuries and rotation, Wilmot has proved himself more than capable of filling-in in that position in the future.
“I played there until I was about 16,” said Wilmot. “Then I moved to centre-half.
“But I don’t mind either - centre-midfield is good when you get on the ball, and centre-half is good when you’re up against a tough striker. It’s good to get that fight throughout a game - I enjoy that feeling. I don’t mind to be honest, so long as I get a game.”
You could be forgiven for forgetting that Wilmot is relatively inexperienced - last night was just his 17th senior appearance - after such an assured display against strong opposition, but it helps that he had such seasoned professionals in Craig Cathcart and Adrian Mariappa playing behind him alerting him to any danger.
“Where I played last night with Craig and Mapps behind you, they tell you where to be and it’s something you need as a youngster,” he said.
“And, with the team that Spurs put out as well, you can be looking one way and someone else has gone the other way, so you need all the help you can get and it was handy having them around.”