Academy boss Darren Edmondson spoke to us about his side’s victory over Borough in round two of this season’s Cumberland Cup shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“We come away pleased with that,” he said. “When you play in this competition against an older age group you know you’re going to have to move the ball quickly so that you can play your game as you want to play it.
“Getting a couple of early goals settled the lads down and, in the end, it became a really good game of football. We have to give the opposition credit for that because they kept going for the full 90 minutes.
“They gave us one or two nervy moments and the penalty they took was one of the best you’ll see. There aren’t many keepers who will save that and they’ll be pleased to have put it away.”
“From our point of view we had a number of first years who got 90 minutes, which was good, and we had other lads who are coming back from injury who also got involved,” he added. “Between them they set the tempo and that’s important in this type of cup game.
“You’re coming up against teams of stronger and more physical men and the test is how you move the ball when you’re under a little bit more pressure. We saw that against Cleator last year, in what was a much more physical game, but you have to learn from it.
“Getting the goals and the win will give the lads confidence as they go into Saturday’s cup game. We know we have to start taking our chances in the league games as well now so I definitely don’t want to see any one-nil defeats going forward from this.
“To be fair, I thought we scored some really good goals and we showed an ability to receive and deal with the ball in tight areas. It’s good for the lads because they want to win every game, and that outlook has been instilled right from the top by Keith [Curle] from the day I arrived at the club.
“If we don’t approach games with that attitude we’ll come unstuck. Professional careers are built on that level of desire and it’s vital that every member of the squad has it within them.”
Looking ahead to a tough run of fixtures, he said: “We’re hoping the win on Saturday, backed up by this, will put us in good stead going forward. We have the FA Cup game against York and then we have a double-header against Wigan on Tuesday and Saturday.
“The stamina and mental strength is getting tested at the moment but that’s something else they have to get used to. We’re in a run of three cup games in a row right now and we want to stay in all of the competitions.
“Ultimately we want to see consistency in the league as well and we’ve been disappointed with a couple of defeats where we haven’t taken our chances. Had we taken them we’d be talking about a different set of results, but taking chances has always been the hardest part of football.
“The good thing is that we’re getting a fully fit squad and we should start to see more goals and wins coming our way.”
The eagle-eyed at Frenchfield Park on Tuesday night will have spotted a familiar face on the United bench as former-Blues keeper Tony Elliott makes a return to the club to take post as the Academy goalkeeper coach across the age groups.
“I spoke to Tony a few weeks ago and he told me that there was a possibility that he was going to be leaving his full-time role with the FA and moving back to up to Cumbria,” he explained. “It was an absolute no-brainer for me to ask him if he wanted to be part of what we’re doing.
“We’ve had a lot of good keepers come through the Academy and go on to first team football over the years and Tony will only help to enhance that succession. He has vast experience in his field and he’s qualified to the hilt to do it.
“He’s also worked with Futsal and women’s football at high levels, which we all know about, and there’s a huge amount of experience we’re going to be able to tap into as an Academy.
“His appointment is going to help us to improve in a number of areas, and he’ll be here to oversee keeper training and coaching from eight-years-old all the way through to eighteen. It’s just a real bonus for us to have him back in the area and to be able to utilise him.
“It’s great for Nicky [Hill] who has been covering that role for us because he’ll get to work with and learn from Tony as well. For the coaches and the players to be able to work with an England FA coach is just fantastic for all concerned.”
“It brings us a step closer to filling the coaching slots we have at our Academy, and that comes down to numbers,” he confirmed. “We don’t seem to have qualified coaches in the area so we’re still a couple short which would enable us to have two for each age group. We’re actively looking and we’re constantly seeking to improve in every area.”
And on playing the fixture at Frenchfield Park, home of Penrith, he said: “It’s a great facility and they host us fantastically well. The pitch is really good and I know our lads like playing on it.
“Our ground staff have a done a really good job on that and we’ve been able to put some decent performances in on it. When you don’t have to think about having to trust the pitch with your passing it helps you to get more flow to the way you play.
“We’ve built up a really good relationship and hopefully Penrith are getting as much out of it as we are.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Darren Edmondson on iFollow United now.