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INTERVIEW: Overall it was pleasing

Mark Birch with Cumberland Cup reaction

12 October 2022

A devastating five-minute spell in the second half saw United turn the screw against a stubborn Cleator Moor side at McGrath Park on Tuesday evening, as they eventually eased their way through to the second round of the Cumberland Cup.

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Speaking after the game, Mark Birch said: “The goals we scored in the second half were an example of exactly what we’d wanted them to do from the first minute.

“It’s always going to be difficult when you come to places like this, especially when you have a mix of first-team players and youth team players who haven’t really had much pitch or training time together.

“That never makes it easy, but what you have to do is trust in the quality you have and lift the tempo. You have to play the game at the pace you want to play it at, and not allow the opposition to get any kind of foothold.

“It was when we really got to grips with it that we scored the bulk of our goals.”

On the youth team players who were involved, he said: “I’m pleased with what they did but you always demand more.

“There were little things that happened that suggested they were getting complacent, and we can’t allow that. They weren’t as positive as they could have been in certain situations, and they didn’t do the things we wanted them to do.

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GALLERY: Images from a Tuesday night at the Moor

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“We’ll pat them on the back for the good bits, but as a coach your job is also to make them think about what they could and should have done better.

“Hopefully they’ll take that into the next round and they’ll recreate that five-minute spell that got us all the goals.

“That was a real positive, the quality of the goals. Dan Hill got one that was superb, and to be fair he’s more than capable of doing that type of thing.

“We’ve waited a long time for him to show that kind of quality. He’s got it, and he now needs to show it on a consistent basis.”

“We’ve had a good run in the league and I think you see at any level that winning breeds confidence,” he added. “We did see a lot of the ball and we played some good stuff.

“We passed it around well but it’s that word consistency again. You need it within a game as well as through a season.

“If you play at your best in every game you’ll see that you dominate for longer periods, and managing games becomes that much easier.

“I have to say that the lads from the first team showed an excellent attitude, and that did rub off. They did it right, and it’s not always easy when all they want is to be playing in the big games.

“However, this is where they’re at and it has to be done in the right way. Some are coming back from injury, some are trying to remind the manager that they’re ready, so it matters.

“For everybody it’s minutes in the legs, so overall it’s pleasing all round.”

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