Youth boss Darren Edmondson gave us his reaction to what was a battling performance in the home defeat against Rochdale at Gillford Park on Tuesday afternoon.
“I thought the lads competed well but it’s always difficult when you go down to ten men, and particularly that early in the game,” he said. “With the weather situation we’ve had recently we haven’t been able to get a run of games or consistency in our play, so that red card knocked us back a little bit.
“I thought the response from the lads was actually very good. We gave as good as we got in the second half with the ten men, and the lads kept their shape well defensively. They held two banks which were hard to break down and Rochdale were limited to going direct with their approach.”
“I wasn’t sure whether their second goal was offside or not,” he continued. “It was a great finish from the lad and he was constantly on the shoulder of the last defender in the first half as well. We’d warned Aidan Hutchinson and Liam Brockbank that he kept peeling into that channel, when we spoke to them at half time, but he took his goal very well.
“It was a good bit of play that separated the sides in that second half and, in the end, it made it quite comfortable for them.”
“Their first goal came not long after the sending off, so that was something else for the lads to deal with,” he commented. “It was a disappointing one because it was a free header from four or five yards out.
“The frustration comes from the fact we’d spent a long time the day before working on set pieces, and things like that, so that everybody knew where we needed them to be. That one runner getting away can really hurt you, but it happens at all levels.
“We won’t be too harsh on the lads about that, but the good thing is that we can look back at it and see where he’s made the run from, and what we need to try to do to stop that from happening next time.
“As I say, the response was good because we have to bear in mind we haven’t had a lot of games recently, and that makes it difficult to build any kind of platform to help you to keep confidence levels up.
“The good thing was that the work ethic and the desire in the second half was great, and they kept going right to the end. They stuck to the task and there were some really good signs there. We have some good players here and I can’t fault any of them for application and desire.
“We just need to work on some control mechanisms, and that’s not just the anger side of it, that’s the anxiousness when they get possession. What we lost when Kieron Olsen was sent off was his composure on the ball, because he’s one who does have a good head for space.”
Speaking more about the lack of competitive fixtures since the beginning of December, he told us: “It certainly doesn’t make things easy. The way we look at it now is that if we can go to Preston on Saturday and get a positive result then we’ve got two more games next week, and things can quickly change.
“The lads have to go into this run of games in a positive frame of mind. They tend to hide a lot of emotions at this age, but we’ll get a real feel for how they are confidence wise once they get through next week’s busy programme.”
And with decisions to be made on the second-year group before the end of the season, he said: “This is a difficult part of the year for these lads anyway, so if you’ve hardly played any games to put yourself in the shop window it makes it even tougher for them.
“It’s a very condensed period coming up, but it could work out to be a good thing for them. If they can put five or six good performances together then it might have a bearing on things.
“There’s nothing that can be done about the way the fixtures will fall now, it’s the nature of the game and this beast that is a two-year cycle. We roughly know where we are with most of them.”
“I have to say thank you to Carlisle City,” he concluded. “They’ve given us their stadium to allow us to get this game on today and that shows the good link we have with a good local side.
“The facilities are excellent, and I know City were only too happy to help us out. It’s good for the lads to walk out of the dressing room and through a tunnel to get onto the pitch, so hopefully that’s another relationship which will continue to strengthen and grow.”
Next up – Preston North End v Carlisle United – Saturday 17 March – kick off 11am
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