Academy boss Darren Edmondson gave us his reaction to the Cumberland Cup semi-final victory over Bransty Rangers, held at Frenchfield Park, shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“The first 20 or 25 minutes was always going to be as it panned out, I think,” he said. “They were full of energy and enthusiasm and they had a little bit of physicality about them.
“We just had to keep our belief and shape and stick to the game plan. With that you hopefully get the first goal, and that’s what happened.
“The second and third goals came quite quickly before half time which obviously made the second half more comfortable.”
“It was almost attack against defence after the break, but fair play to the opposition because they threw their bodies on the line and made a lot of good, last ditch blocks,” he added. “Their performance showed why they reached the semi-final, so it’s been a pleasing evening for us. They brought a bus full of fans and they helped to make it a great atmosphere. They did themselves every credit as a club.
“I’d liked to have seen one or two more goals, but we knew Bransty would give us a test. You don’t get this far in the competition if you haven’t got something about your team and they had some good passages of play in that first half.
“We restricted them to very little opportunities, which was good, and Louis [Gray] had very little to do other than from a couple of chances at the end. That’s testament to how the lads worked when they were out of possession to close the opposition down.
“The save at the end is a remember to everybody that you have to concentrate for the full 90 minutes. He had a couple of things to deal with, but he’s been a pro for a good few years, and that’s why. Games can be like that for goalkeepers but they always need to be ready when they’re called upon.”
On what was a disciplined overall performance, he told us: “I thought our movement was a bit slow in the first half and we started to come in a bit narrow, which encouraged the odd challenge to come in.
“If we’d stretched the game a bit more we might have scored earlier than we did, but we invited them onto us. One of the lessons we need to learn is to keep away from tackles by using the ball better and by finding the spaces quicker.
“It’s often about dealing with contact better and finding that space to move away from it when you play in games like these.
“As well as Louis, the lads had Jason Kennedy to work beside, and that’s always fantastic. Jason has been involved in nearly all of the games and the fact that he offers to take part, and plays so well, is testament to him. His attitude shows how he is as a person as well as a footballer.”
The Blues will now go up against either Wigton Harriers or Penrith in the final to be played at Brunton Park on Tuesday 30 April.
“The players have got a good cup final to look forward to now,” he said. “It’ll be great for them as a group and I’m sure they’ll all want to take part.
“They’ll get to play on Brunton Park and a lot of them are local lads and Carlisle fans, so it’ll be a fantastic night for them.
“There have been some proper cup ties along the way against the likes of Pirelli and Cleator Moor, and the lads learn a lot from having played in them.
“Getting to a final is a reward because the youth system can be a long old two years for these boys. I don’t think people appreciate how mentally draining it is for a 16-year-old to come into something as intense as this.
“Once college kicks in they only get a Sunday off, so a Brunton Park final is a great way to bring an end to what will hopefully be a happy journey.”
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