Carlisle United’s young Blues begun the defence of the Cumberland Cup at Frenchfield Park on Tuesday night against a spirited Langwathby United side who refused to buckle in the face of some dynamic attacking play.
A confident Charlie Watt set the tone with a four-goal salvo and he was very ably backed up with a brace from Dan Hill and a fine finish from DJ Taylor.
Speaking after the game, youth boss Mark Birch said: “It was good from Charlie, but his biggest enemy in the world now is Charlie Watt’s ego!
“As a team we wanted to turn up tonight, enjoy it, and it took the lads 15 or 20 minutes to work out the game and how to break them down.
“They needed to get used to the speed of the game and the pace that we had to move the ball at, but once we did, full credit to the lads, they went about it in a really professional way, which is what we want from every game.”
“Credit to Langwathby because they sat in there, never gave up, and their keeper had a blinder and pulled off some good saves,” he added. “I think they knew it was going to be hard but they never gave in, they went about the game in the right way, played it in a good spirit, so fair play to them.
“We have to deal with that, knowing that they’ll work hard against us and battle for everything. But once you get to grips with it they’re the kind of games where you can work on your passing.
“We’ve got big expectation on the lads to pass it properly, do it right and play the ball at pace. These games are different because the young lads get a chance to showcase themselves.
“You’ve got Gav Skelton sitting in the stand and he’ll be reporting back to the gaffer, there’s a few of the directors here too, and there’s a good crowd watching. It’s their chance to catch the eye of people within the club.
“We remember Lewis Bell playing in this tournament, and Taylor Charters, and we said to them - who’s the person in the dressing room that people outside our little bubble of the youth team are going to be talking about.
“We gave them the challenge. Charlie Watt will get the headlines but Dan Hill did well and DJ Taylor showed glimpses of what he’s all about. The players we’ve just spoken about and the rest of them have got to do it on a more regular, consistent basis.”
Having already mentioned Charlie Watt, it stands to reason that his haul of goals will have done him no harm at all.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to get off Charlie for 18 months,” he insisted. “There’s no showboating, he got the ball, passed the ball, and fully deserved his goals.
“His solo goal is what Charlie’s more than capable of. We want that more often. I’m probably Charlie’s biggest critic, if there’s one thing it’s his consistency within games because we don’t always know what we’re going to get from him at times.
“But he’s finding his position within the team and now he’s playing to a good standard, and is mixing that with work rate as well.
“With Dan Hill, he hasn’t been in the team of late. He came on against Preston and reset the tempo of the game for us, kept his place tonight and did himself no harm.
“We’ve got everybody back fit now, going into the next round of fixtures, and everbody’s fighting for their place.”
And on the healthy showing of 276 supporters – the biggest crowd many of the players will have played in front of – he commented: “This is what the competition’s all about. Playing under floodlights, at a proper stadium, I enjoy these games.
“It’s good for the lads, it’s another experience for them along their little journey. It’s a competition we want to win because every game we play we want to win. We want to go as far as we can.
“We’re back in the Youth Alliance Cup against Blackpool on Saturday, and that’s important. We lost against Rotherham 3-2, a game we felt we should have won, which puts us on the back foot in the group stage of the tournament.
“It’s important we go out and win and that’s how we’ll set up.”
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