Academy manager Darren Edmondson ahead of the Barnsley FA Youth Cup gameYouth boss Darren Edmondson spoke to us about tonight’s FA Youth Cup third round meeting with Barnsley at Oakwell as the lads get ready to make the trip across the Pennines for what will be another exciting night of football.
“The lads have been excited about the game all week,” he said. “It’s a great occasion for them. We’ve told them that there will be professionals who have good careers who won’t get to play at a stadium like Oakwell.
“That in itself makes it an exciting evening. The reward if they go through is the potential of another big stadium to play at against Leicester. It’s definitely a game they’re really looking forward to.
“Hopefully the experiences they’ve had of playing FC United of Manchester and Chesterfield in the earlier rounds will help them. We’ve talked a lot in the last couple of weeks about how to deal with the added pressures of certain things which can play on people’s minds.
“We’ve looked at how different things affect different people and how they can help each other through. Hopefully that will set them in good stead, but you only ever find out if that’s the case when you’re into the game. Some will be nervous, some will rise to it and some won’t. That’s the nature of it.
“We’ll try and assess the situation as quickly as we can, help those that need it and hope that they all do themselves justice, at the very least.”
“Ironically the only wins we’ve had in the last couple of months have come from this competition,” he added. “They’ve done very well in the two FA Cup games but, to be fair to them, they’ve played some good stuff either in the first half or second half of our league games. We’ve just given ourselves mountains to climb by going behind, and that’s never easy at any level.
“I’m happy for a lot of the second years because they’ve come back fit having missed out on the first two rounds through injury. It’ll be nice for them to experience this and to play some part in the game.”
Having watched DVDs of Friday night’s opponents in action, he said: “I’m not sure if watching the footage has helped or not because I don’t think the lads have analysed what they’ve seen as well as they should have.
“Barnsley are a big, physical and strong side and they’re also very quick. They play a very rigid 4-4-2 and they maintain narrow gaps to stop you from playing football. The lads think they’ll be able to deal with it, but I don’t want them to start feeling complacent.
“They’re a very good side so we’ve been talking a lot about how we will approach it and how we will look to break them down. We think we’ve got a good game plan so hopefully we’ll be ready for whatever comes at us.”
“Overall I’ll be reminding them that it’s a night they have to enjoy,” he commented. “I want them to get as much from it as they possibly can and, if they come away with a positive result, all well and good.
“If not, I want them to take some good memories away because these are great occasions. They’ve earned the right to be there by winning two difficult away games and we want it to continue. If they turn in the performance levels we know they can then we’ll be giving Barnsley a good run for their money.
“The confidence hasn’t taken a knock because of recent results, which is a good thing. They do take a day or two to get over it, but they soon lift themselves to get ready to go again. Knowing that the Kingpower Stadium is next gives the winner of this tie something else to lift themselves for and to look forward to.”
“In terms of availability, we have 16 available, with Max Brown missing with a thigh strain,” he told us. “Jaic Miller will still be out as he continues to recover from his cruciate injury. Other than that they all want to be involved, if not starting.
“Dave Wilkes has obviously got strong ties with the club and he actually sent his uncle to watch a game for us. I think he’s quite excited that he’s taking a team to play there. He’ll have a couple of family members with us on the night, which is nice.
“It’s good for us as the coaching staff to be putting our lads out at a stadium like this and we know we’ll have a lot of parents along to watch as well. It’s nice for them to be able to see their boys do something like this.
“We want to go there as a club, give a good account of ourselves and make sure we’ve taken as much as we can from what will be an enjoyable night.”
United v Accrington: Bacon, Olsen, Breen (Hutchinson 75), Watson, Taylor (Goldthorpe 80), Groves, Cowburn, Holt, Hall (Adewusi 60), Salkeld, Egan. Subs - Ashton, Lloyd.
United v Port Vale: Bacon, Olsen (Goldthorpe 60), Breen, Watson, Taylor, Groves (Dixon 75), Salkeld, Holt, Hall (Hutchinson 60), Cowburn, Egan (Lloyd 82). Subs - Ashton.