United’s under-18 side smashed six goals in what was a thrilling game as they overcame a stuttering start to put Rochdale to the sword last weekend.
Youth boss Eric Kinder spoke to us about the game.
“It was a game we started poorly, and that was because we suffered a bit of a backlash from the Youth Cup on the Monday night,” he said. “You can’t put your finger on why we started so badly but the upshot of it was that we weren’t moving the ball quickly enough and we couldn’t find our passes.
“Rochdale took the lead and, as it turned out, that was exactly what we needed to happen. It woke us up and we started to get our act together. That was about 20 minutes into it and from there we dominated the rest of the game.
“The more goals we scored the more it allowed us to take a couple of the players off who have played a lot of minutes recently, which was good. We even managed to get the under-16 keeper on for the last 15 minutes, so it did become a comfortable morning for us, eventually.”
With the lads clearly suffering from the disappointment of the cup defeat in the early stages of the game, he said: “I actually thought it would go the other way. I thought the lads would be fired up and ready to put that result behind them, but it was the polar opposite and they looked really sluggish.
“The conditions were perfect and we were playing at Stalybridge Celtic’s ground, which was fantastic. You come out of your dressing room and you’re straight onto the pitch, so it’s like a proper football match.
“That’s no disrespect to even our own ground, where we have to walk out onto an open field, but it did make it a good environment to play in. I thought it would help us to put on a show but initially it worked the other way.
“Defensively in the first half we weren’t right and that came down to them playing the game at a slower pace. They got caught out but, again, that gave them a shake and they looked much better as a unit as the game went on.”
“Like I say, once we got to grips with ourselves we dominated the game and we looked a good side,” he commented. “Taylor Charters got his hat-trick, and he could have scored five, and Jamie Armstrong weighed in with another two. Ethan Henderson got his goal just after he came on, so it was a good day for them.
“Some of these lads are scoring regularly and Taylor is a good player. That’s why he’s already got his pro contract, because he’s stood out. He shows how strong he is at this level and he needs to carry on doing that, both at youth and reserve level. He’s fantastic with us but you have to be that way if you’re going to be a first team player. Fingers crossed he’s going in the right direction.
“Jamie pops up with goals near enough every other week and I’ve been pleased with him. He probably needs to get a little but tougher in himself, but I think he knows that, and he puts the work in. With Ethan, he came to us with an injury and he’s struggling to get fully fit, so that’s one we need to manage.
“We gave him 45 minutes with that in mind and that’s probably what we’ll do with him for the next few weeks. I’d rather have him giving it everything for 45 minutes than have him easing off because he’s trying to work his way through 90.”
Tuesday took a crop of the under-18 squad to Morecambe where they played their part in a healthy 4-0 victory over Morecambe in the Central League Cup.
“I was really pleased with the attitude the boys showed in that game,” he told us. “Morecambe had an experienced team out and I thought we went there and performed well. We were certainly clinical in front of goal and the young lads played their part.
“Lewis Bell stepped up and showed us what he can do, and he’s been guilty of not doing that with the youth team over the last few weeks in what has been a rough patch for him. Jamie and Taylor both worked hard and were strong in midfield, and all of the lads who got a game demonstrated that they could handle it.
“That’s what it’s all about when it comes down to it. They have to be able to make the step from the youth team to the reserves easily and, if they do that, it gives them half a chance.”
Next up for the young Blues is an away game at Accrington on Saturday morning.
“We don’t know what to expect from them but they’ve shown that they can pick up good results,” he said. “They went to Fleetwood, who hadn’t lost a game at the time, and they won it 1-0. That tells me it’s going to be difficult but, to be honest, I don’t see an easy game in this league at all this season.
“I think Morecambe are the only team without a win and we went down there and only managed a draw. Yes, we only had ten men for an hour of it, but it shows how unpredictable it is at the moment.
“During my first period at this club there were always four or five teams who you knew would be stuck at the bottom of the table. It doesn’t seem to be like that now. It’s much more competitive with teams taking points off each other.
“Not that long ago we had Premier League teams in this division, the likes of Burnley and Wigan, and it was a big result if you beat them. Preston and Walsall were always very strong but now the gap between top and bottom isn’t really there any more.”
United v Rochdale: Robinson (Simons 75), Barnes, Birch, Lightfoot, Wilson ©, Day (Steele 52), Armstrong, Walton (Leslie 66), Soper (Henderson 46), Charters, Bell (Rooks 70).
Goals: Armstrong (24, 86), Charters (36, 58, 64), Henderson (52)