Morecambe host Carlisle United U18s Saturday 23 April in EFL Youth Alliance League.
The young Shrimps return to action after the Easter weekend break and will be hoping to get back to winning ways. Their last league outing saw a 2-0 defeat playing away to Rochdale, when Peter Thomas netted a brace to secure all three points for the home side.
Carlisle are currently sat in second position on the Youth Alliance table and are four points behind league leaders Preston North End, with less than a handful of games left to play. In their last match before the break, the Cumbrians were victorious, by three-goals-to-one against Tranmere Rovers U18s.
Professional Development Phase Coach, Mark Birch began his youth career at Stoke City before signing a professional contract with the club. The former defender dropped to the non-league scene and spent two seasons at Northwich Victoria before joining Third Division side Carlisle. In his playing career, Birch has also played for clubs such as Gretna, Southport and Newcastle Blue Star, before heading back to Northwich Victoria.
Following his retirement, the 45-year-old has made his way through the ranks of the Academy, coaching the different age groups and in June 2019 was appointed PDP Coach.
Lead PDP Coach Darren Finch looks back on a positive season for the Scholars, and says consistency is key.
“Overall, there have been a lot of positives and they’ve done well in a lot of games, but there are times they have been inconsistent, which is disappointing because I know on paper, they’re a good group of lads,” he said.
“They’ve just got to learn from their mistakes and hopefully they can finish the season strong.
“Technically and tactically, the skills are there. They just have to keep their minds focused on what they’re doing.
“I know you’re never going to win every game and you’re going to make mistakes, but they need to be more consistent in both their training and their games.”
Ahead of Saturday’s match against Carlisle U18s, the squad know it will be challenging but if they take from previous performances they have a chance at winning, says Finch.
“We’ve got Carlisle this weekend, they’re currently second in the league so it is going to be a tough game,” he added.
“We played them last week as well with the reserves team, and we lost 2-1, but it was a close game. I think we were the better team in the second-half too, but this weekend is going to be tough.
“They know they’re going to have to match them physically and just do what we can do when we’re in possession.
“If we just stick to our principles and work hard, like we have done in previous games, we’ve got a chance."