United got back to league action last weekend with a hard-earned home victory over Morecambe. Boss Eric Kinder spoke to us about the game.
“It was a good result but a poor game,” he said. “It was the first game back after Christmas for both sides and it showed a little bit. We started off bright enough, but it developed into a poor spectacle, if I’m being honest.
“It was brightened up by a first-class strike from Jamie Armstrong, direct from a free kick from the edge of the box. He bent it over the wall and it went in off the bar, and that was the only real bit of quality in the whole game.
“We dominated most of the game but it looked like it was going to be one of those days we had earlier in the season where we were going to have a lot of possession without anybody being able to put it in the back of the net.
“We defended quite well, but overall it was a scrappy game. The pitch handled the recent weather, but it was quite spongey and hard to play on. We were just happy to get back playing again and pick up three points.
“In the two games before Christmas we dropped five points, three points at Blackpool and two at home to Walsall, so we needed to get back to winning ways if we want to finish in the top four or five.”
“Everybody says good teams can still win when they don’t play at their best, and it was pleasing to see that on Saturday,” he continued. “The boys are developing and getting stronger.
“We haven’t seen Taylor [Charters] for a long time and he’s been coming on for the first team and getting a bit of game time, which is great, and we’ve obviously seen Jarrad [Branthwaite] go to Everton. We all wish him all the best, it’s a massive move for him and that will stand us in good stead when it comes to us trying to recruit players.
“They can see you get chances at this club so it’s a good selling point in terms of trying to persuade players to come to us. We’ve also had a lot of lads on the bench a few times this season and it is a great recruitment tool.
“We’ve just signed a young centre half from Sunderland, who Huddersfield were showing a lot of interest in, and in the same week Jarrad has gone to Everton as a 17-year-old and Taylor has come on for the first team. It’s a good sell, because they can see if they produce it they’ll get a chance. The manager’s background is youth, so he understands that side of it.
“I’m pleased we’ve signed our defender, Josh Barnett. I was chasing one player from Newcastle who decided to go to Burnley, but I’d already asked Joshto come in and play in a game at Annan. The boy from Newcastle went to go and play for Burnley instead, and Josh was ill, so the game was organised for those two and neither of them played in the end. It was still worthwhile because it got us back playing after Christmas.
“Josh played for us against Newcastle U16s last week and did well, so it was a case of me having to make my mind up, because I knew Huddersfield were really keen. The boy from Newcastle told me he’d give me a decision by Wednesday, but I was in a position where if I didn’t do something I could end up with both of them going elsewhere. I didn’t want to lose both, so I offered Josh on Sunday, after his performance against Newcastle, which I was happy with.”
“We haven’t got a game this weekend which is a bit of a blow, but we’ve organised a first-year friendly against Morecambe,” he explained. “It will give us the first chance to get next year’s youth team on the pitch together and have a look at them.
“It’s getting to the important stage of the season for the second years now and there are a couple of them showing nerves. The education comes first at this time of year, we have to get them through that then we’ll sort everything after that.”
United v Morecambe – Robinson, Barnes, Leslie, Lightfoot, Wilson, Day, Major, Walton, Bell, Armstrong (Watt 64), Birch. Subs – Breeze, Soper, Taylor.
Goal – Armstrong