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Jimmy Unwin highlights learning process for young guns as Cambridge United defeat Guiseley in the FA Youth Cup

Cambridge United defeated Guiseley in the FA Youth Cup. Picture: Cambridge United (43177288)
Cambridge United defeated Guiseley in the FA Youth Cup. Picture: Cambridge United (43177288)

Jimmy Unwin believes that Cambridge United's 4-0 victory over 10-man Guiseley in the FA Youth Cup can be a good learning curve for the squad.

Glenn McConnell fired a hat-trick for the U's and Nathan Braithwaite was also on target against the National League North side, who had striker Darwin King sent off at the end of the first half for a second bookable offence.

The movement, passing and intensity of the U's had already helped them establish a 2-0 lead by that point though.

“It was about getting the job done, and the boys did that,” said Unwin, the U's professional development phase lead coach.

“Over the 90 minutes, we probably deserved it. Even with 11 v 11, I thought we were on top for good spells and took our first two goals really well.

“An under-16, Glenn McConnell, took them with two great strikes so it put us in a commanding position for the first half. The sending off kills the game a little bit as a spectacle to be honest.”

The match was over as a contest with two goals in three second-half minutes not long after the break, and in many ways that helped Unwin learn more about his team, despite the win.

“The difficult thing is the focus and composure of the boys in the game, and that no-one has a little lapse or relaxes,” he said.

“I felt that a couple of players relaxed in the second half and took their foot off the pedal when we were 4-0 up especially.

“I wasn’t too pleased with the second half, but it’s all about getting the job done in the cup competitions.

“The boys don’t play against 10 men often, and they don’t play against 10 men that play a diamond and one up top, with four in midfield like we had.

“It was a good challenge for them, but the key thing now for me is to go through the first and second half and provide them with some analysis and have some feedback individually to the boys to say this is where we need to be better and when we come up against teams like Sunderland, we’re going to have to be really good in these areas.

“The first and second half were a complete contrast, obviously the sending off caused that but I was really pleased in the first half - before they went down to 10 men - to get a two-goal and the intensity we’ve played with.”

But what particularly stood out for United was their ease on the ball.

From goalkeeper Jonah Gill all the way through the side, they were all happy to take possession, even under pressure, and attempt to play their way forward.

“I’m a possession-based coach in that I like the boys to play football rather than play a bit longer and play in areas - we want to try to play through the midfield as much as we can," said Unwin.

“We’ve got some really good technical players so it would be a travesty if we played long and didn’t suit them boys. We try to play as much as we can, and get them confident on the ball.
“When they get to the first team - hopefully they will - they can start learning different styles and playing what the gaffer needs for them to play and win a game.

“In youth football, you can take a few more risks and play a bit more attractive football at times.

“We want to be pleasing on the eye. Everyone wants to watch good football, and we’ve got good youngsters at this football club so we want to see them progress and get on the ball as much as possible. It’s what we try to do to impose ourselves on the game.”

In the third round, United will face the winners of the clash between AFC Fylde and Sunderland, who face each other on Friday.

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