Academy manager Alan Moore with reaction to Oldham and Port Vale
Youth boss Alan Moore spoke to us about the Oldham and Port Vale games as the fixtures continue to come thick and fast.
“They were two very different games again,” he said. “Oldham was a very physical game, because they try to turn you, so we changed the formation in the first half to deal with that.
“We asked the lads to play in a slightly different way and to drop away and be compact. We wanted them to close the space behind so Oldham couldn’t play long balls in. The message sunk in and we did it really before the break.
“In the second half we went back to opening it up and trying to take the initiative. It was a good test and probably the closest game we will get at youth team level to first team football. Every second ball was challenged for, Oldham do that really well, but we stood up to it right across the team.”
“You don’t really want to talk about referee’s decisions but there were a few we ended up having to discuss at the end of the game,” he told us. “The players applied themselves despite that and they stuck to the task.
“We had a penalty in the last minute which was saved by the keeper, but we were made to take it again due to him coming off his line. We’ve looked at that again on the DVD and it was the correct decision. Jason Blackburn kept his composure and finished it off in the last minute for the second time in the space of a week.
“We should have had another penalty earlier in the game, as should Oldham ... but they then got one that they missed. The goal they scored should never have stood, and it was one of those games where you had to make sure you didn’t get involved with the officials.”
“We’ve asked the players to assess themselves after each performance so it was all another part of the learning curve for them,” he said. “For us, as coaches, it was a brilliant game. We were able to see who stood up and who wanted to do their bit.
“The game down at Port Vale was completely different because it was a bigger pitch and we asked the lads to make sure they had more possession than the home side did. We were disappointed because we didn’t really keep possession well at all.
“We could have done it much better if we’d used the ball more in the midfield areas, but the passing and movement off the ball wasn’t good enough or crisp enough. We were lucky to come away with the draw in the end.
“They had a great chance late on, but we also had chances to be fair to the lads. Connor Hammell hit the bar again, they hit the post, so it could have gone either way.”
“However, as I said, overall we asked them for just one remit – possession – and we didn’t achieve it,” he commented. “That’s why we’re disappointed.
“We do ask them to question themselves as to why that’s the case. We get them on the iPads on the way back and ask them to detail three things they’ve done well, and one thing they feel they need to work on.
“Generally the things they highlight are the same as what we’ve seen, and we always add our comments afterwards. That means they get a constant appraisal, but they are also appraising themselves.”
“We have another two back to back games coming now with Preston on Saturday and Doncaster on Monday,” he said. “You could see they were visibly tired on Wednesday, with the two long away trips they’d just had in a mini-bus, so the lads who played didn’t do anything on Thursday.
“We might freshen things up for Preston on Saturday with some of the U16 players, with a view to the cup game we play against Doncaster on Monday afternoon. The lads enjoy a cup game so they’ll be looking forward to that one.
“It’s the same with the Cumberland Cup, they want to know who we’ve got and when the draw is as soon as they’ve got through the round. The incentive here is that they’ll have another home game against Wigan if they do manage to win it.”
United v Oldham – Fowler, Hurley, Marshall, Taylor (Salkeld 55), Douglas, Robson, Moyes, Hammell, Hall (McCue 75), Blackburn, Elliott (Pearson 65). Subs – Eccles, Bradbury.
Goal – Blackburn.
United v Port Vale – Fowler, Hurley, Marshall, Taylor (White 45), Douglas, Robson, Moyes (Rudd 78), Hammell, Hall, Blackburn, Bradbury (Elliott 45). Sub- Eccles.
United v Preston North End, Saturday 28 February, Creighton, kick off 3pm
United v Doncaster Rovers, Monday 2 March, Youth Allince Cup, Creighton, kick off 12pm
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