Craig Liddle

Liddle pleased with table-toppers

by Ashley Houghton

U18 coach sums up midweek win.

Sunderland’s under-18 coach Craig Liddle says he is delighted with the marked progress made by his side as the young Black Cats won 2-0 at West Brom on Tuesday.

Liddle’s side have now moved top of Group One of the Barclays U18 Premier League after goals from Nathan Thomas and James Stinson earned the visitors the three points.

The first-half performance on Tuesday, without getting too carried away, was probably as pleasing as we’ve been all season

- Craig Liddle

And Liddle says he was delighted with his side’s reaction after a poor performance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the same opposition.

“Last Saturday we were okay, without being good, and we just felt if we approached the game on Tuesday with a positive mind-set and played to our capabilities that we would get a result,” he explained.

“[On Tuesday] the first-half performance, without getting too carried away, was probably as pleasing as we’ve been all season.

“We did some really good stuff first half, and despite them coming out fighting a little bit in the second, we weathered the early storm and regained our composure to run out worthy winners.”

Though Liddle’s young side are top of the league with a formidable scoring record of 18 goals from eight games, the former Darlington boss is keen to ensure his boys concentrate on their performance levels.

“We keep telling the lads it’s not about winning leagues and cups at this level,” he added.

“For me it’s a good sort of mind-set to have, to try and be the best you can and if you can win your league it’s a great bonus.

“It’s a really difficult league with some very, very good teams and if we were to come out on top it would be a fantastic achievement by the lads.

“There’s still a long way to go and we’ve got some big games coming up but I think in the back of their minds the lads will probably be looking at trying to win the league.”

Liddle’s side will have to wait a fortnight for their next league encounter when they travel to Stoke City.

They will train on Wearside this weekend ahead of a busy run-in to the end of the season.

“The lads will be in on Saturday morning and then we’ll give them the afternoon off so they can go home, relax and spend a bit of time with their family and friends before getting ready to go again on Monday.”