A young United side bowed out of the Cumberland Cup at the quarter-final stage on Tuesday night as Penrith showed a ruthless finishing streak with goals at key stages of the game.
Speaking after the game, youth boss Eric Kinder said: “I have no complaints whatsoever. I thought we were a poor second-best.
“Defensively we were all over the place. The back four seemed frightened to death of getting up the pitch in the first half. I don’t understand that at all, it’s not like that in league games.
“Penrith were better than us, simple as that, in all departments. We had a little sniff when we were getting back in the game just before half-time, but we need to score the next goal at that point. We don’t do that in the second half and they run out comfortable winners.”
On going two goals behind within the first eight minutes, he commented: “We told them how to play before the game, the back four – no risk football, no gambling. We had two centre-halves trying to get in front of people, and they can’t do that.
“Some of those lads are experienced non-league players, but without being disrespectful, they’re non-league players. We’ve got people in that team tonight who’ve just been given a pro contract.
“This time next year or even before that they are going to have to play against wily old foxes from League Two, not wily old foxes from the Northern League. It’s disappointing, we’ve got to look at ourselves after tonight.”
“It was men against boys and we never looked like competing against them,” he continued. “Players from this level are tough to play against. If you don’t match it you come unstuck.
“They picked up all the second balls, first balls, everything. We didn’t. We didn’t play. I thought we were weak and soft. We’ve got to get a tougher middle. They outfought us, outpassed us, played the game better than us, played a proper game of football.
“We were clearing it 20 yards, they were clearing it 60 yards. They were hitting it over our back four and we couldn’t even get there. Their last goal was a hell of a goal but that started with somebody jumping out of a tackle.
“It’s a wake-up call. These are men who they’ve played against. They’re men from the Northern League. Some of our lads might have to play against men from League Two. Wow. That is a wake-up call.
“It doesn’t matter what side we put out. At our level we’re classed as the professional side in this competition.
“We’ve put many a youth team out over many years, and I’ve never been involved in a game where we’ve been so dominated by an amateur opposition.”
United did look like they were about to mount a fight back when Jimiel Chikukwa brought his side back into it with a fine strike just before the break.
“That’s our bright spark of the night,” he told us. “It’s a great finish. It’s a first-class finish. You think at 2-0 down after eight minutes, if we go 3-0 down before half-time we’re looking at the end of a pasting.
“As it turned out we got one anyway. But when you get to 2-1, the next goal wins the game. If we get it back to 2-2 I can see them crumbling a bit and we take over. But they got the third goal and defensively we were so poor it’s unbelievable.”
Next up for the under-18s is a home game against Salford at the weekend.
“They really turned us over at their place,” he said. “They’ve got two quick forwards. If our centre-halves defend like that on Saturday they’ll be in for another hammering.
“They’ve got to stand up, be counted and show some desire. They’re coming up against probably the best side in our league. They’ve not just won games recently by two or three goals, they’ve won by four or five.
“We were one of those, so Saturday will tell me a lot about this group if they can come out and battle.”
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