Darren Edmondson with his thoughts on the Barnsley victoryAcademy boss Darren Edmondson gave us his reaction to the superb away victory at Barnsley on Friday night in the third round of this season’s FA Youth Cup.
“Dave Wilkes and I are so proud of the lads,” he said. “We had five or six going down with cramp at the end but they stuck to their task and the game plan and they came through it.
“In the last five or ten minutes I thought we could have scored one or two more goals because we were dealing with it well. It’s all about the lads because they were really good and there were some excellent individual performances.
“Along with that they stuck together as a collective and when you have everyone pulling in the right direction you can achieve big things. Knowing the draw for next round was a great driving force for them because to go to Leicester City is a big thing.
“I think that’s something which kept them going, particularly in the last ten minutes. They battled right to the end and ultimately they got the result.”
“Overall we’re really happy with what the lads have done,” he commented. “We made one or two errors in the first half but that was probably due to the tension surrounding the game. There were bound to be a few nerves and that caused a bit of indecision in our defensive third, which meant we put ourselves under pressure.
“Generally we were as comfortable as we could be because they were very powerful going forward. Our keeper and back four were very strong and resolute in the second half, and when you have willing runners in front of that it gives you a platform.”
On the goal which won the game, he said: “It was a great time to score and a very good finish from Kieran [Hall]. We knew that if we could keep him within the confines of the goal area he would get a chance, and he usually takes them when he does get them.
“Both he and Rhys [Groves] have been out for a very long time and I’m chuffed for all of the second years that they got this opportunity. If they’d been knocked out it would have been their last chance to play in an FA Cup game, but they’ve come through long-term injuries and adversity to make a real go of it. Going to the home of the Premier League Champions is almost a cup final for them now and they should rightly be looking forward to it.”
On the level of performance which took the lads through, he said: “They worked as a team and that was the key. They’ll have a lovely Christmas on the back of this and then we can report back ready to do it all again.
“What I will say is that we have got to find those levels in the league. We need to find that consistency and the second years have got to build on this and get some momentum from it, so they can put themselves in the first team manager’s eyes. They need him to be taking notice of them as they head towards the end of the season.”
With Leicester next up, as the young Blues face yet another away tie, the academy boss admitted that spirits are high as the amazing cup run continues.
“The lads are absolutely buzzing in the dressing room,” he said. “As I say, the draw was done before this game and that was great from our point of view. The lads knew what could happen to them if they won, so it’s a massive thing to look forward to.
“There’s a lot of work to do between now and then but that shouldn’t stop them from looking forward to it. They’ve been given a programme to do over the Christmas break so they’ll be keeping on top of their fitness work.
“We do have a lot of lads who are away from home for long periods so it’s good for them to go and see their families without a fixture programme to worry about. However, we’ll expect them to do what they need to do because, if they don’t, the King Power will seem a very difficult task for them!”