INTERVIEW: Better than I expected

Mark Beck on his European experience

United striker Mark Beck admitted today that his recent trip to Belgium for the U19 European Championship round-robin of qualifying games against Belgium, Georgia and England with the Scotland U19 squad had been a valuable and enjoyable experience, despite the run of results which ultimately knocked Ricky Sbragia’s side out of the competition.

“It was probably an even better experience than I expected it to be, even though the results didn’t really go our way,” he said. “I really enjoyed being part of it but we did have to accept that the team performance wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”

And a start in the opening game, against hosts Belgium, was made even better when the big striker notched the opening goal of the encounter with just 19 minutes on the clock. 

“It was obviously great for me to get the nod to start in the Belgium game,” he told us. “I thought I did well and getting the goal so early was a massive boost.
“We were all playing really well at that point and when we scored again I thought we were going to push on and end up as group winners, which would have seen us through to Lithuania.

“Unfortunately they got one back and they piled the pressure on after that. They then got their equaliser and I think the lads were fairly deflated when that hit the back of the net. 

“The manager [Ricky Sbragia] was still very happy about the point and he kept reminding us that Belgium are a very good side. We nearly nicked it later on in the game as well, but it just wasn’t to be.”

Having let their two-goal lead slip, the focus switched to Georgia and what was expected to be a comfortable victory.

“We were confident going into the second game against Georgia because they were apparently going to be the whipping boys of the group,” he explained. “That wasn’t the case because they were a really good side. 

“We won a penalty and I walked over and took the ball off the lad. It was one of those where I hit it well and it was just a very good save from the keeper. 

“I’m confident when I take them – I scored a few in pre-season last summer – so I always back myself when I step up. It definitely hasn’t put me off taking them again because it’s just one of those things.

“Losing that game was a huge blow and all that was left was for us to try and do things properly in the final fixture.”

A 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Georgians left the young Scottish side with only pride to play for when they came up against the auld enemy, but two first half goals left them staring at another disappointing result.

“Losing against Georgia meant we couldn’t qualify for the finals and that did put a slight dampener on the last game against England,” he admitted. 

“They were probably the best side we faced of the three, to be honest. We caved in after a while and it was disappointing to do that in a game like that.”

As for how the European adventure compared to a standard Carlisle United away day, he said: “The away trip with Scotland was completely different to what we do at the club. 

“The set-up was different, because it was an international competition, and it was good to play against teams like Belgium, Georgia and England at that level. 

“Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it and hopefully there’ll be more of the same to come in the future.”

Part two of this interview will be available on the official website on Friday morning where Mark Beck talks about scoring goals, pre-season training and being involved with the first team squad.
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