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CUMBERLAND CUP: Always pushing for more

Mark Birch with Northbank match reaction

3 November 2021

A young United side earned a place in the third round of this season’s Cumberland Cup competition with a 3-0 Tuesday night victory over Northbank at Frenchfield Park.

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Max Kilsby, Taylor Charters and Sam Fishburn scored the goals for the Blues, but youth boss Mark Birch admitted afterwards that his side hadn’t had it all their own way.

“We scored two early goals and we wanted to kick on a little bit further, but then the game got a little bit sticky, and we struggled to break them down,” he said. “We had all the possession but we’ve got to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal. 

“There are times when they’re on top but I think they’ve just got to relax in the game. When you’re keeping the ball it’s still got to be with a purpose.

“We stopped passing it with any real purpose and we gave away silly set-pieces that could have allowed them to get back in the game.”

“Credit to Northbank, they kept going,” he added. “They went about the game in the right way, all the way to the end, so we had to make sure we were doing the right things all the time.

“It was the kind of game where if they get one goal, the game can start coming a little bit tricky again. 

“We did see a lot of the ball and we encouraged the lads to try and play forward but, if not, try and keep it and then use the next pass to go forward. We did that well at times, but we always expect that little bit more and we’re always pushing to go that bit further.”

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On the different qualities seen in the three goals scored, he commented: “They were three good goals. Max Kilsby got on the scoresheet again, which I’m sure he’ll be telling everyone about for the next week.

“It was good to see Sam getting back on the scoresheet as well. For Sam, that’s what he’s judged on and he wants to score goals.

“Taylor Charters got his early goal and we’re looking for him to kick on. He had a few opportunities where we think – go on, get it on your right foot and get your shot away a little bit quicker.

“But it all comes down to games. The more games you play the more confidence you get and you start believing in yourself a little bit more.”

“Like I say, Northbank made it hard for us,” he continued. “Even though we scored two early goals, they never caved in, stuck to their game plan, which was to be compact, make it tight, not give us any easy goals, and they did that right to the end.

“At times they frustrated us a little bit because it was difficult to break them down. Full credit to them for that.

“I think for our own part we’ve got to learn from when we gain success in doing certain things, to keep doing it, not take your foot off the gas, not get complacent in the game, which we did. After about 25 minute we got a bit too complacent and relaxed.

“But it was good for our youth lads to play with the likes of Keelan, Taylor and Lewi Bell. They always come in and do the job the right way. We know in attitude exactly what we’ll get out of them.

“They’re with us for a reason, to try and get to the next level of their own development, try and push for the first team, and they’ve got to keep going at it. They’re good role models for the other lads to look up to.”

And on progression to stage three of the County Cup, he said: “It’s good for the lads to be playing on a Tuesday night under floodlights.

“They’re good games for the lads and if they go about it in the right way, it’s a competition we want to go as far as we can. 

“They’re playing against men, which is always good for their learning curve. Any cup competition is good, you want to go as far as you can because there are rewards at the end of it.

“We’ll always take it seriously, go about it in the right way and try and go as far as we can.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Mark Birch on iFollow United now.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.


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