Alan Moore on the games against Bury and WiganYouth boss Alan Moore spoke to us about the away draw at Bury and the Youth Alliance Cup semi-final fixture against Wigan.
"Bury were top when we went down there, and it was their first game at Carrington, so we knew it would be a difficult game," he said. "We went down with a lot of young lads, we had five under 16s involved, and they were all different class.
"We went 1-0 up and Bury weren't causing us any real problems. Tom [Fowler] didn't really have a save to make. We had a one-on-one chance to go 2-0 up but their keeper made a good save. They scored late on but we were really pleased with all of the kids. We're going to try and give them as much exposure as we can so they can see what under 18s football is all about."
"We have to approach the games differently when the group is so young," he explained. "We've got to be more patient and let the lads feel their way in. We've got one under 16 who has now played four games with us, and Saturday was the first one where he actually looked comfortable. The minutes they're getting now are all a bonus because their scholarship doesn't start until next season.
"With the second years going out on work experience we asked the first years to step up to the mark. They aren't playing in the shadows of the second years any more and some of them surprised us."
"The second years are all playing men's football at the moment," he said. "Tom White played half an hour for West Auckland, Connor Hammell has played two full games for Whitehaven, Jack Elliott and Jordan Marshall both played 90 minutes for Penrith, Jason Blackburn and Harvey Moyes got 90 minutes, and Jason got himself on the scoresheet. The whole weekend was a success from our point of view.
"We're going to go out after our game on Saturday and watch some of the lads. I had feedback from all of the managers after the games on Saturday, as well as from the lads themselves. We'll keep monitoring them, and speaking to the lads you can tell they're enjoying playing men's football because it is different."
"Going out on penalties to Wigan on Tuesday was difficult for the lads," he said. "We gave them a challenge before kick off because that is now the last game they will play as a group of first and second years. From that point of view it is disappointing because they could have had another game if they'd got to the final.
"We didn't perform as well as we can. The better team went through even though they had nine men for 60 minutes. Arron Bradbury came on and played well on Saturday, and he did the same on Tuesday and scored a wonderful goal. We're pleased for him, but overall we're disappointed with how we shifted the ball.
"They sat back and defended but we didn't move the ball quick enough as a team or as units. It went to penalties and they are always a lottery. The lad who missed our penalty has scored two in the last month, so it's just one of those things. You always get what you deserve in cup games so we aren't worried about it too much."
"We play Rochdale on Saturday and they've gone top of the league this week," he told us. "We've played the top three teams in the space of ten days so we've had a tough week. We'll go with the young lads again and give them a run out. It's a massive test for them but if they do anything near like they did last week against Bury, I'm we'll be impressed."