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YOUTH: It was an excellent performance

Eric Kinder on the victory over Walsall and the Christmas break

24 December 2020

We caught up with youth boss Eric Kinder on Monday morning following the 4-0 victory at Walsall on Friday.

“It was an excellent performance,” he said. “We finally got what we’ve been asking for all season which was a continued dominance of a game, with the exception of ten minutes at the start of the second half.

"You always expect a side who are losing to come at you, but we handled the game really well.

“The pleasing thing, not only the goals and the clean sheet, was that if you include the two wing backs, the three centre halves and the goalkeeper, for 18 minutes they were all first years, and for the rest of the game it was five first years and an U16 after DJ Taylor came off injured.

“The strength of the performance came from the four second years in midfield. We defended well, but it was those four who dominated the game and allowed us to have a comfortable victory."

Speaking about what might have been, he said: “We had a team meeting this morning [Monday] and we think we’re eight points short of where we should be.

"We had a draw at Rochdale after we were 2-0 up, and defeats against Fleetwood twice, and Salford and Preston were missed chances cost us.

"We completely dominated the second half against Shrewsbury last week. I think we had 17 shots on target without scoring.

"So, we’re eight points away from where we should be, but I’m still really pleased with them. The first years have settled in really well, it’s been hard for everybody this season, but they’re all doing well and it was really enjoyable to watch on Friday."

“The aims are always the same at the start of each season," he continued. "We want to get to the third round of the FA Cup, win the Alliance Cup and finish in the top three in the league.

"The Alliance Cup was a disaster for us, we should never have lost the game at Morecambe and we should still be in that now. With the way we’re playing now, we could have looked at it as a real possibility, so that’s slightly frustrating.

“We’re top of the league at the moment but that’s down to us having played more games than most others. Our aim to finish in the top three is still there, and we obviously got to the third round of the FA Cup.

"That game hurts a little bit more now, because if we’d got through we would have had Arsenal at home. I said to them before the Blackburn game to make sure they didn’t come off the pitch with any regrets.

"Then, after full time, I spoke to them about the fact they would have loads of regrets and that draw makes it slightly worse. That’s the way it is, overall I’ve been really pleased with them and we’ll see what the New Year brings."

As for the festibe mini-break, he commented: “A few of our lads have been invited to stay in and train with the first team over Christmas.

"Lewis Bell is obviously one of those, with him already having his pro contract, and there’s a couple of first years and two of the goalkeepers who will train with them as well.

"Other than that, the vast majority of them will finish tomorrow [Tuesday] and be back in on the first Monday in January.

“We’ve played 13 league games so we have played half of our games already. We’ve only got five home games left, two of them are in January so if we have a dry January and can get those games played, we’ll have a two-and-a-half-month gap before we play another home game. That’s just the way the fixtures dropped.

“At the half way point of the season they've done better than I thought they would, but the frustrating thing, as I said earlier, is that we could be talking about even more points, more wins and more goals.

"The injuries haven’t helped. On Friday we had an under-16 on the bench who came on after 20 minutes, and two goalkeepers. Isaac [Robinson] had to come on for the last five minutes and play centre forward, so it’s really stretched us.

"It won’t get much better because they’re all long-term injuries. We don’t expect Ryan [Swailes] to be back until March, Dylan [Garvey] will be the end of January and Roan [Steele] might be ok in mid-January.

"DJ Taylor came off with a hamstring injury on Friday but it doesn’t look as serious as we first thought. We’re down to the bare bones, but we’ll deal with it.”

United – Breeze, Ellis, Kilsby, Leslie, Barnett, Walton, Taylor (Hill 19), Rooks. Fishburn (Robinson 88), Bell, Watt. Sub – Simons.

Goals – Fishburn 5, Bell 50 & 53, Leslie 82.

Booking – Barnett 44.


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