Craig Liddle

Liddle pleased with display

by Ashley Houghton

U18 coach reflects on win at Stoke.

Sunderland’s under-18 coach Craig Liddle spoke of his delight after the young Black Cats beat Stoke City 2-0 in Staffordshire last weekend.

Liddle’s side extended their lead at the top of Group One of the Barclays U18 Premier League to three points with the win against the Potters.

If we play at that level we’ll be a match for anybody, so the message is just more of the same

- Craig Liddle

Goals from Steven McCarthy and Ethan Robson secured the points for Liddle’s side in the first of what Liddle described as “four cup finals” as they look to earn a play-off spot.

“We just said to the boys that it’s now one down, three to go,” Liddle said.

“If we play at that level we’ll be a match for anybody, so the message is just more of the same.

“I was really delighted with the way we played - the composure the boys showed and that bit of grit and determination to weather the storm in the second half.

“I thought first-half we dominated and played some really good football. We probably deserved to be more than the one goal up but the message at half time was basically more of the same.

“In the second half, Stoke came at us, which we expected, but we got a foothold in the game and I don’t think anybody could say we weren’t worthy winners.”

Liddle’s side had to cope with a difficult pitch down in Staffordshire and the former Darlington man was delighted with the way his young side approached the conditions.

“The pleasing thing in the second half was that we made the right decisions,” he added.

“On a bobbly pitch you can’t always get the ball down in midfield areas and play but that’s part of their learning process.

“We played some excellent football and took the two goals very well.”

Both McCarthy and Robson took their goals with great composure and Liddle was full of praise for the clinical display from his attacking players.

“Steven is a first-year and hasn’t played a great deal of games but I thought he did very well. It was a great first touch to set himself up and, again, he showed a lot of composure to put the ball through the keeper’s legs.

“The second one was a very, very good move and Ethan is technically very good so when he gets in those positions we expect him to hit the target at least.”