United’s defeat at the hands of Morecambe in their Alliance Cup group game on Saturday makes it unlikely that they’ll progress in this season’s competition, with the other group member Bradford yet to play both United and the Shrimps.
Speaking about the weekend 2-1 defeat, academy boss Eric Kinder said: “It was a disappointing result because it’s a competition where I always look at as us having a chance of winning, or at least getting to the latter stages.
“The FA Youth Cup is a difficult competition, even to get to the third round, and winning the league is difficult, so the Youth Alliance Cup gives you a chance to win a trophy.
“We’ve probably blown it already. It’s a shorter format this year, with only three teams in each group, and only the top team goes through, so to lose the first game probably means we’re out of it.”
On the game itself, he told us: “We started ok on a difficult pitch at Kendal, it’s always difficult and we know that, so that’s no excuse. We conceded early on, Dylan Garvey got us back level before half time, and we spoke about the game plan for the second half - which the players didn’t do. That ended up costing us the game.
“I’m experienced enough to know that these are the highs and lows that come with working with lads at this age. Unless you have three or four really top second years in your team, results can go either way in every game.
“What disappointed me on Saturday is that we should have won that game because we had better players, but they didn’t do what they were told to do at half time. The decided they would do it their way, and that’s what I’m really disappointed at. We’ll cover those issues this week.”
“Myself and Mark [Birch] have been doing this a long time, so when you sit in the stand at Kendal and you can see a way for us to win a game, then set a plan out for the second half, you just want to see the lads go and do it.
“We had the advantage of kicking downhill at Kendal, which is hard to defend against, so to see us lose the game is disappointing. We’ve got injuries, Elliot Day had to go off just after half time, Max Kilsby and Roan Steele didn’t play, and Lewis Bell is with the first team.
“They’re excuses, and we don’t deal in excuses, the big thing is that they just didn’t listen to what the game plan was for the second half.
“If we’d won the game we would have been in the driving seat in our group, and a draw against Bradford probably would have got us through to the quarter-finals, and who knows after that. I think it’s very difficult to go through in a group of three when you lose your first game.”
On what the lads can take from the defeat, he said: “They have to learn from Saturday, if they don’t they’ve got no chance of stepping up to the next level.
“It was very frustrating, we looked poor and we didn’t play with any energy or enthusiasm, which you can’t have at youth team level. The first thing lads of this age have to have is bags of enthusiasm to play the game.
“When you’re at a professional club with a chance of making a career out of this, they absolutely have to show that enthusiasm. They didn’t, and that’s the worst I’ve felt for a long time looking at a group of lads in a youth team situation. We’ll have to put that right otherwise we’re going nowhere.
“We’re playing Morecambe again this weekend, we swapped the league game from away to home because Kendal’s ground wasn’t available two weeks running. I suppose the positive to come out of Saturday is that we didn’t lose a league game.
“We will have to perform a lot better, but we know what we’re up against. We’ll take the game plan we had for the second half at the weekend into Saturday’s game, and they better stick to it this time!”
And his final word was for Lewis Bell, who was on the bench for United’s away trip to Port Vale having made his senior debut in the Sunderland EFL Trophy game last Tuesday.
“The progress Lewis Bell is making doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “When I came back last year and he was a first year you could tell he lacked self-confidence, he still does, he doesn’t believe how good he could be.
“It’s coming slowly, he’s training well with the first team every day now and I’m getting good reports. He deserves to be with the first team, he’ll still need 90 minutes of football every now and again to keep him topped up, but it’s really good to see him around that environment.”
United – Robinson, Ellis, Leslie (c), Walton, Barnett, Day (Rooks 51), DJ Taylor (C Taylor 68), Garvey, Fishburn, Swailes, Watt. Subs – Breeze, Simons.
Goal – Garvey (20)
Booking – Swailes
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