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YOUTH: We got to grips with it

Mark Birch on getting back to winning ways at the weekend

5 April 2022

Youth boss Mark Birch spoke to us about the recent Preston and Fleetwood games, as his team bounced back to winning ways last Saturday.


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“We went down to Preston with an under-strength team for various reasons, but the lads who came in did very well,” he said. “Some of them haven’t had much game time but they came in and played some good stuff.

“They really set the standard for work ethic and commitment for everyone to follow the following week.

“It was good to see some U16s coming in, they did well, and they all got plenty of pitch time, which sets them in good stead going forward as well.

“The way the game ended was disappointing because we’d defended as a team. Jack Ellis, Max Kilsby and Gabe Breeze were fantastic with the way the organised everybody and pulled everybody around. They really encouraged the rest of the lads.

“It was one of those games where even though we lost, we were really pleased with what we saw on the day.”

“Before the Fleetwood game we told the lads that good teams don’t lose three games on the bounce,” he continued. “It took us a while to work the game out and the pitch was a bit lively, but once we got to grips with the game it looked like there was only one team going to win it, and we came out deserved winners in the end.

“It was a bit scrappy, but we kept trying to do the right things. In the first 40 minutes of the game we were trying to force things too much.

“We were forcing the final pass rather than just keeping the ball in the final third and taking the extra touch. We were a little bit too eager trying to get the goal.


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“But Sam got two and he’s a goal scorer. We’re working on the other side of his game with him, and he knows he needs to concentrate on certain things. He’ll always be judged on goals and he deserved the two he got.”

“We’ve got two games left now and we still want to finish second in the league,” he commented. “We’re well on course to do so. Winning the league has gone, but we can still finish second.

“The boys want to finish second as well, they know where they’ve gone wrong over the past couple of weeks and there have been some lessons learned from it.

“We have to take the positives out of everything we do. I think we probably need one win out of the final two games to cement that second place.”

And on the decisions still to be made on the second years, he said: “There have been no decisions made yet.

“Everybody is still in the mix, there haven’t been any discussions because obviously there are bigger decisions to be made first.

“Not that it isn’t important for those lads, but the club have got to make sure everything else is right before we can sort the second years out. It hopefully won’t be long before we can get it sorted for them.”

United v Preston: Breeze, Gordon, M Bell, Potts, Ellis, Kilsby, Hill (Allan 46), Nugent (Hetherington 72), Hardy, L Bell, Taylor (Swinburn 67). Sub – Boyd.

Bookings – Hill, Gordon, L Bell.

United v Fleetwood: Breeze, Potts, M Bell, Carr, Ellis, Kilsby, Watt, Bollado, Fishburn, Hardy (Swinburn 84), L Bell (Hill 61). Subs – Boyd, Gordon.

Goals – Fishburn (2), own goal.

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