Eric Kinder on the Youth Alliance Cup
Youth boss Eric Kinder spoke to us about the thrilling 5-4 victory over Fleetwood in the northern area semi-final of the Youth Alliance Cup.
“Everything appeared to be going to plan because we got control of the game early on,” he said. “We won a corner and Patrick Brough was on hand to tap it in.
“Little did we know what was going to happen after that! It was very similar to the league game a few days before where we went one up then we allowed them back into it. They came at us and it was all-square by half time.
“I actually have to be honest and say they were the better side after they got that goal and it stayed that way leading up to the break.”
“I got the lads together and I told them to keep it tight, because we knew they were going to come at us again,” he said.
“I couldn’t have been more right because they took the lead almost right from the kick off. It took us five minutes or so to pick ourselves up but we were back in it when Alex Salmon struck a decent shot from just inside the box. The keeper made a bit of a mess of it, but it was a well-taken goal.
“Suddenly we were the team with the momentum and Alex [Salmon] scored another just two minutes later. Their defence got in a tangle and they all seemed to leave the ball for each other to deal with. That put us ahead and I thought we’d settle ourselves down and get on with the job.”
“I was wrong again,” he told us. “We went to sleep a little bit and they grabbed an equaliser before the fact we’d gone ahead had even had half a chance to sink in.
“Credit to our lads because we went at it and Alex [Salmon] made it a hat-trick with our very next attack. Looking back, it was an unbelievable passage of play because it went from 2-2 to 4-3 almost within the blink of an eye. I’m sure it was great to watch but for the coaching staff of both sides it was an absolute nightmare.”
“It became very even after that and, I’m pleased to say, things tightened up … even if it was just for ten minutes,” he added.
“The nerves, or whatever it was that was affecting everybody, crept back into it and it started to look like there would be a goal with every attack. Both defences were very average on the day and it could have ended up any score.
“They pulled it back to 4-4 with 20 minutes left to go and I can’t even argue that they didn’t deserve it. It looked like it was heading for penalties but with three minutes of normal time left Alex Salmon got his fourth goal.
“It then became a real case of bite your fingernails because the referee played nine minutes of added time even though he thought he'd only played three. He wouldn’t listen to anyone, however much he was told, but he did come out and apologise afterwards. We got away with it even though there were a number of occasions during those nine minutes when they could and should have equalised.”
“It wasn't the most enjoyable game in my opinion,” he said. “I’m sure people will look at the scoreline and think it must have been fantastic to watch. I have to look at it in terms of how we performed and we were very poor defensively. It was nowhere near the performance I wanted. There wasn’t a word from the lads at the final whistle because I think they knew they’d got away with it as well.
“The defending was as poor as it's been all season. It wasn't just the back four either. The midfielders weren't tracking the runners and they all looked nervous. Fortunately Alex Salmon put four of the six chances he had away or it would have been very different for us.”
“The obvious positive to come out of it is that we are through to the final,” he admitted, “We always target this competition because we think it’s one we can win.
“We now go up against Walsall and we have been drawn to play at home [Wednesday 3 April, Creighton, kick off 1pm]. In my opinion Walsall are one of the best sides in our region at the moment so it should be a very good game.
“We'll work with the back four to try and address the issues we’ve identified and we’ll keep looking at shape work and the things we do when we haven’t got the ball. We’re a much better side than we have shown in this last week or so and hopefully we’ll go on from here to prove that.”
United: Parker, Gwinnutt, Morse, Chisholm, Minor, Dempsey, Lynch, Berwick, Brough, Nicholl (Thompson), Salmon. Subs: McEvoy, Dixon, Brass, Cleary
(Cameron Nicholl is on trial and has signed a non-contract form).