Darren Edmondson looks ahead to the FA Youth Cup gameWe spoke to youth boss Darren Edmondson ahead of the second round FA Youth Cup game at Chesterfield on Tuesday evening.
“The FC United game was about getting through and seeing if we could play at a really top ground against a good club," he said." It’s an excellent draw for all sorts of reasons. It puts us against a club in the higher division on their home pitch, which will be fantastic. It’s set up for a great evening for the lads.
“I think there is less pressure on us but I’m not sure if you can say that about a group of 16-year olds. There is pressure, they know the importance of it, and they’re going to a stadium that is new and daunting.
"We still get lads who are nervous about playing at Creighton, that’s just the development of a 16-year old. We’ll just be looking to turn that nervous energy from the last game into energy and motivation rather than a bind over them."
“The players do get the same buzz as the first team lads when it comes to the FA Cup," he confirmed. "Myself and Dave [Wilkes] were talking about that to them as soon as the draw was made. They’ve waited for the draw and they’ve talked about the disappointment surrounding whether Barnsley is a big draw if we do get through. The same discussions happen, but the focus is all on Chesterfield.
“We had them in with the U16s on Saturday to play some practice matches and give us a chance to look at which under-16s we’re going to have to bring in and what formations we can use. We’ve tried to prepare them as best we can and if the boys can raise standards and learn from the nerves they had in the last game I think they’ve got a good chance to go out and win another match."
“We’ll probably have to play two under-16s in the starting 11," he told us. "Alex Goldthorpe has just been given the all-clear by the doctor after his concussion. He’s available to play but he’s probably only done a week’s work in the last three weeks, so he might make it onto the bench.
"Kieran Hall has been out with his back, but he’s been training hard over the last week to ten days. He may make the bench which will be a plus on the attacking front. Max Brown is still absent, Sam Adewusi is still absent and Rhys [Groves] is long term, as we know."
“Knowing who we would play in the next round might change the mindset," he admitted. "It gives the lads something else to aim for. Barnsley doesn’t seem like a big club to them but it’s a massive stadium and it would be another great place to go. We’ve got to get over Chesterfield first. If we don’t produce near our best from 1-11 then maybe that won’t happen.
“The focus has been on what we’re going to do with the football and how we can create some opportunities. What we learned from the FC United game is how they’ve got to cope with the pressure. We didn’t deal with it very well in the first half of that game and we’ve got to learn from that.
“We don't know whether Chesterfield will play the same formation as they did in the last game. They won it but it was different to what they normally play. We’ll stick with the same formation, but one or two individuals might change because of injuries.
"The under-16s are aware of what is needed if they're called upon. We’re going to try and prepare right - some of them might have to miss bits of school so we can go as early as we can and do it right. Preparation is key, the club have given us the executive coach again so the lads won’t have any excuses. We’ll try and make it as good a day as we can and hope they can achieve something on the night."
“These games are all good experiences," he concluded. "When we were drawn against FC United of Manchester the lads were disappointed, but it turned out to be an excellent experience because there were over 350 people watching them. It made for a good atmosphere and it was different to what they’re used to. I hope the learning curve from that game will set us up well for tonight."