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YOUTH: We won't let standards slip

Mark Birch on the last weekend's win over Accrington

4 March 2022

A casual glance at the youth team score from last weekend would give the passing observer the impression that a comfortable victory had been registered, but youth boss Mark Birch confirmed that it was a much scrappier performance than the four-goal margin suggests.

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“It was one of those games where we took the chances, but when you look back on it you find that there’s a lot we need to be better at,” he said. “The good thing is that we created opportunities, we put four of them away, and one of them was a superb strike from Nic Bollado.

“If we’d been more clinical we could possibly have added to the tally, but I have to say that at the other end we gave away far too many opportunities for my liking.

“That could have made it much tighter, so the players can be pleased, as long as they realise that there is still much more room to improve.”

Having said that, he agreed that the way the team found a route to victory, despite not being at their best, was something they could be very happy with.

“That’s something we can’t take away from this group,” he commented. “We always seem to find a way to win, but we’re at a stage of the season where we want to demand more from all of them.

“They know what’s right and wrong, what’s good and what isn’t, and they know the standards we set and expect to achieve.

“It doesn’t matter if we win, lose or draw, if we drop below the standards we want from them we'll let them know.

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“They got their clean sheet, the keeper and defenders did well on the day, but we’ve worked on so many things through the season that we don’t want anyone to take their foot off the gas.

“We’re still in the fight at the top of the table so if we let the lads get away with things or bring bad habits into the game it’ll start to affect their results.”

Always a good sign in any game is when the main strikers find the back of the net, as both did on this occasion.

“That’s good for them and the team and, like I say, one of Nic Bollado’s was a great finish,” he told us. “His other goal was really pleasing because we’ve worked on getting across the defenders in training, getting good contact and hitting the target, and we saw evidence of that.

“Sam’s goals were exactly the type he scores - right place at the right time. Forwards will always get on the end of things if they gamble when they get into the area and that’s what he did for us.”

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With just six games left to play, it’s meant a reshuffle of the remaining fixtures with an end of April season finish now the plan.

“We’ve moved a few of them forward and we have some big games coming up in terms of where we are in the league,” he said. “We also have the Cumberland Cup game against Carlisle City and that’s a competition we desperately want to do well in.

“There are the two massive games against Preston and Fleetwood, and if we can get good results from them it will keep us right in the mix for the run-in.

“And, of course, we have a group of second-years who are still waiting for their decisions. It’s tough for them at this time year, you can sense that they’re a little bit edgy, because they want to know what’s going on.

“We have to understand that and work with them, and it’s hard because some have already got pro contracts. There are another two or three who are capable, but whether or not we get them over the line, we don’t know at this point.

“All we can say to them is that they need to consistently do the right things, don’t let their standards drop, keep a steady head and let’s see where it takes them.”

Watch the goals from the Accrington game below:

Keep tabs on results and league position HERE.

United - Simons, Potts, M Bell, (Hardy 29) Carr, Ellis (c), Kilsby, Watt (Gordon 78), Garvey (Taylor 71), Fishburn, Bollado, L Bell. Subs – Boyd (gk), Hill.

Goals - Bollado (5, 73), Fishburn (20, 75)

Bookings - Watt, Garvey, Fishburn


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