Darren Edmondson on youth matters and the Cumberland CupYouth boss Darren Edmondson spoke to us shortly after full time in the Cumberland Cup game on Tuesday evening.
“I thought it was a good game of football all round,” he said. “Cleator came and played football and tried to do things correctly. We had opportunities to go ahead on the counter-attack in the first half, but when you’ve lost a couple of games on the trot you make poor decisions and you can feel a bit anxious.
“We didn’t move the ball correctly in those counter-attacking moments in the first half. They could have led to better opportunities and potential goals which would have seen us over the line.
“We had a lot of possession in the second half but we ran out of steam in the final third a little bit. We weren’t quite as strong or as positive as we could have been.
“Earlier in the season we were full of confidence because we were taking our chances. The last two performances and results can dent the confidence. We’ve lost Max Brown, who is our top scorer, and Cameron Salkeld, who has been with the first team. That's made us slightly weaker in attacking areas. It was also Jack Egan’s first game in six weeks, so we were just trying to produce a team who could go and get something from the game."
“When we looked at half time we thought we should have been ahead in terms of the opportunities that we created," he commented. "The final pass just went astray when we needed it to be tighter. Some of the movement was very good, but some of the passing was maybe a little bit square and didn’t have the positivity to try and make that killer pass.
“Both centre halves played well and the two midfielders were good in possession of the ball. We were very nervy in the first 15 minutes but once we relaxed into the game we were very good. We moved the ball well and switched play when we could. I just think we missed certain key players going forward."
On the noisy support from the visiting fans, he said: “Cleator are always passionate, whatever sport they’re playing, so it was good for the lads to play in front of a crowd like that.
"They had a couple of opportunities which they took and they played the game in the right spirit. This cup gets bad press when teams come and do the wrong things, but we saw a Cleator team who are doing the right things and who have got a lot of young bodies in there who can set them in good stead. Overall they deserved to win but we’ve got to take the positives from it and look to build on that.
“It was good to see that our lads could handle the pressure. There were a few tackles which they didn’t pull out of, which was also pleasing. We had nearly all of our first years out playing which is a huge plus. They will definitely gain something from it. If nothing else they’ll have belief that they can do well under pressure.
"They’ve shown on a really good pitch, under pressure, that they can play football. They’ve got to make sure the key pass in the final third gets to where it should, but that comes with confidence and playing more games."
On the step up for second year Cameron Salkeld, from the youth team to the first team, he said: "Cameron is showing the rest of the lads that there's a pathway. That was stressed to me in the summer when I took the job. Keith assured me a pathway would be available.
"The manager is showing that's the case and Cameron is the first one. A few of the other lads have trained with the first team at some point over the last ten weeks and they’ve all gained experience. We did have to pull Cameron back down to earth a little bit early on, but I think he’s realising that he’s still learning and he isn’t the finished article.
"He’s got a lot of work to do but he’s an honest young man and he’s very fit. One of his main strengths are his physical attributes which are very good for a 17-year old. He’s one of the fittest in the overall club but we’ve now got to put some thought process into his game and make sure he learns his role as an attacker.
"Hopefully the mixture of training with the first team then coming back to us will set him in good stead, and we might have one there for the future. We've found with all of the lads that when they come back to us they have a positive frame of mind because the professionals are very good to them.
"Keith has put a great bunch of lads together and every time our lads come back to us they all say what a positive bunch of people they’re working with. There’s been a lot of negativity in the youth team over the last twelve months but the first team lads have brought a positive attitude which is relayed back to my boys.
"We can only speak highly of what the club are doing and we have to make sure we hang onto the coat tails of what Keith and his staff are doing so that we can continue to progress as well."
Looking ahead to the Burnley home game at the weekend, he said: "We’ll hopefully get some players back and we can be a bit stronger physically. That’s what's been costing us really.
"When you’re having to put five or six under-16s into the team it is difficult. We can’t get them on the training ground so they’re coming in cold. That isn’t an excuse, it’s actually a positive, because we’re getting to see them sooner than they thought.
"We’ve already looked at two who we think can potentially come in next year so there’s always something positive to come out of losing bodies. Some of these lads are getting a chance sooner than they thought. We’re finishing games with fix or six 15-year olds and they aren’t quite psychically there. We’ll see what we’ve got available on Thursday afternoon, after they’ve had their time off for their college work, and we'll regroup for Saturday."
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