United’s under-18 side recorded a thumping five-goal home victory when they hosted Port Vale on Saturday, and it was a tale of the set piece as four of the five finishes came from a tried and tested corner routine.
Speaking about the game, youth boss Eric Kinder said: “We scored four of the five goals from corners and it was good for us to capitalise on the great deliveries which we’ve had all season.
“The delivery has been outstanding consistently, but we just haven’t had anybody to get on the end of them. We scored the first after four minutes and it was also the first of Elliott’s three goals.
“He just peeled out of the pack on the corner and ended up at the back post unmarked. He did exactly the same for his second and third goals. The second goal we scored in the game was Charlie Barnes, and he was the one who ended up on the back post from the corner instead of Elliott.
“From our point of view it’s great to score goals from corners. The delivery from Charlie Birch and Jamie Armstrong has been outstanding, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why Port Vale didn’t do something about it. They didn’t, and we benefited from it on a hard day to play football.”
“The wind was strong and there was rain, and the pitch was cutting up,” he continued. “When you go into half time 3-0 up, you’re nearly there, and we knew we just had to see the first 20 minutes of the second half out properly.
“We had the wind in the first half, but we played better in the second half against it. We were overhitting things and we were going too long, but in the second half we played the conditions really well.”
“Even after we got our first goal Port Vale were slowing things down whenever they could,” he told us. “If anybody knows Creighton, their goalkeeper was running off behind the goal for the ball, then he would walk, and by the time we got another ball on he was halfway there, so it was wasting a lot of time.
“The boys were getting frustrated with it but we still managed to get the three-goal lead. It’s always a bonus when a defender scores a goal so for Elliott to score a hat-trick is amazing really.
“I’ve spoken to him and told him that I’m more pleased that we kept another clean sheet. We haven’t kept enough clean sheets this year, we’ve been poor defensively at times, but the defenders have been quick to tell me we’ve had clean sheets in three of the last four games now. With no disrespect to Accrington, Morecambe and Port Vale, we want to be keeping clean sheets against Salford, Fleetwood and Preston. That’s when we can boast about it.”
On what he wants from the remainder of the season, he said: “We’ve got to go on and finish fourth in the league now.
“I think the way Salford are going at the moment, they could go and win the league. They’re beating teams 4-0 and 8-0, they’re not conceding goals and they’re hammering teams.
“Fleetwood are a very good side and Preston are always tough, but after that I think we’re the best of the rest. If you look at our situation, we’ve lost two players to transfers and one to the first team, so that speaks volumes for the squad.
“Who knows where we would have finished if we’d had Josh [Galloway], Jarrad [Branthwaite] and Taylor [Charters] for the whole season. That’s not what youth football is about, they’ve left us for the right reasons, and we’re all pleased to see that happening.”
United – Robinson, Barnes (Steele 74), Birch, Lightfoot, Wilson, Day, Bell (Soper 77), Leslie (Walton 60), Chikukwa, Armstrong, Ramsey (Ellis 60). Sub – Breeze (gk).
Goals – Day (4, 45, 51), Barnes (26), Chikukwa (72).
Next up: Fleetwood Town v United, Saturday 22 February, kick off 11am