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YOUTH: They always look for lessons to learn

Mark Birch on the recent run of youth games

17 November 2022

Club News

YOUTH: They always look for lessons to learn

Mark Birch on the recent run of youth games

17 November 2022

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A good performance from United on Saturday afternoon saw them establish a two-goal cushion thanks to goals from Kai Nugent and Ryan Carr, but a late rally from Salford saw them nick a point with two strikes that came in the last two minutes of the game.

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“It’s one of those where you do look back at what could have been,” youth boss Mark Birch said. “With us being two goals up so late in the game you’ll always feel that it should have meant three points but stepping back and reflecting on the game as whole, it is a very good point.

“I can’t fault the effort and, as we say with everything the players experience, good teams learn from things and move on. They now know that they’ve got to be better at dealing with seeing games through and at handling situations that develop through the closing stages.”

“The one thing the lads have been good at over the course of this season is making sure that they do learn lessons,” he continued. “We also have to give them credit for the fact that they played really well. In previous games we’ve seen some up and down performances, and the results that have gone against us have been from either team or individual mistakes.

“They’ve looked at why that was the case and they’ve moved on. They were down after the knocks they’ve taken performance wise. The FA Youth Cup game against Fleetwood wasn’t our night, but we looked at that and we know why it went the way it did. That’s important.

“We went to Rotherham and we played ever so well in the first half there. We lost a bit of momentum in the second half, and we conceded a poor goal to go with that late on in the game. That was an individual mistake.”

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Getting through tougher spells is as much about coping mentally as it is putting it right on the grass.

“Going into the game at the weekend you could sense that the lads were feeling a bit down on themselves, but we spoke to them and reminded them about the positives, because there have been so many,” he told us.

“They took that into the game at the weekend and after they’d got over the disappointment of conceding you could see that they felt a little bit more upbeat.

“We were down to the bare bones squad wise, Nic Bollado started to feel ill on the way down, so he wasn’t involved, and we finished the game with seven first years on the pitch. That will only stand them in good stead because they’re all getting plenty of game time.

“The goals we scored were pleasing to see. Kai Nugent’s goal came from him being really composed on the edge of the box and when it fell to him you knew he was going to work the keeper.

“Ryan Carr is all about being positive when he gets possession, and that’s what he did for his goal. That’s his first this season and he knows it’s something within his game that he needs to do more.”

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The point keeps the Blues involved at the top end of the division as the campaign gets into the tricky winter stage.

“We probably haven’t looked too much at the league table recently,” he said. “The last five weeks have been very stop-start with games called off due to teams not being able to play us, and then a few cup fixtures thrown in, so we haven’t really been able to get any league momentum going.

“It’s an important period as we lead into Christmas so it’s a time to take stock and keep reminding them that they’ve done so many good things. We don’t use the under-19 regulations like a lot of other clubs do, so we always need to keep it in perspective.

“It’s been a decent start, yes there’s the knock we took in the FA Youth Cup, but if we win the next game against Harrogate in the Youth Alliance Cup we stand a good chance of going through. There’s still a lot to play for.”

United v Rotherham: Barry, Allan, Bell, Carr, Walsh, Potts, Hardy, Nugent, Swinburn, Fitzpatrick (Hill 65), Park (Hetherington 65).

Booking – Carr

United v Salford: Barry, Allan, Bell, Carr, Walsh, Potts, Hill (Fitzpatrick 63), Nugent, Swinburn, Hetherington, Park.

Goals – Nugent (40), Carr (47)

Bookings – Allan, Walsh

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