Cumberland Cup Match: Carlisle United Reserves v Whitehaven FC
The good thing about playing for the Reserves at Carlisle United is that we are involved in a County competition called the Cumberland Cup. We came up against Whitehaven FC in the quarter-final, and we had quite a young side out against them. They had a team full of adults, and it was a good test for us.
We played a number of lads from our Youth team in the game, and Jamie Cleary partnered me at the centre of the defence. He is just a first year and I thought he did really well.
I thought that Whitehaven were good in the first half and they had a few chances. Fortunately we dealt with that and we were able to start playing our game. I felt that once we got a goal it would be more comfortable, but it took a while to come.
Once it did it was just a case of doing it right and seeing the game out, which we did, and I think we learned a lot from it. We won 3 – 0 in the end, so it was a good result, but I think we all wanted a little bit more from the performance.
Playing against non-league sides is a bit different to the normal Youth games that are our bread and butter. It can be a lot more physical and the players are a lot more developed, and obviously much stronger. I enjoy that, it can become a real battle … but I would rather play normal Reserve games given the choice.
Youth Alliance Match: Burnley v Carlisle United
On the following Saturday we were away to Burnley – a real top of the table Youth team clash. It was a really important game as they had 3 games in hand on us, and we knew if we lost against them then we could forget any hopes we had of winning the title.
It started out in quite difficult conditions – we were against the wind and they had some chances – but we nicked the lead through our goal-machine Andy Cook. Our other centre forward, Ryan Bowman, then got another couple just before half time and we were starting to play really well at that point.
Everyone knows that 2 – 0 can be a really dodgy score line, so we felt really happy to have taken a three goal lead. It meant that we could relax and enjoy it all a little bit more.
Burnley did manage to get one back in the second half, but overall we defended really well and we were always going to win. It was a great result and it gives us plenty to build on. Hopefully we can keep it going now and take the title race all the way to the wire.
Last Saturday we were due to play Tranmere, but the pitch was frozen. It had to be called off, which we were all disappointed about, but it’s just one of those things.
Off the field I have been nominated for the Football League’s Championship Manager Apprentice of the Year Award for League One. There are three players from each division shortlisted, and I am extremely proud to be one of them. Myself and the Head of Youth, Eric Kinder, have been invited down to the Grosvenor Hotel in London (where the BAFTA awards were given out the other night) for the awards ceremony in March, and the winner will be announced on the night.
It’s a real honour to be nominated and it something I’m really looking forward to. Going down there with Eric will be good … but it has to be said that he wouldn’t be my first choice for company for a night in London at a posh hotel!!