United face Hartlepool United in the second round of this season’s FA Youth Cup competition right here at Brunton Park on Tuesday night – kick off 7pm.
The Blues beat Prescot Cables in the first round to line up the meeting with their north-east rivals, courtesy of goals from Sam Adewusi, Belchior Papa, Jaic Miller, Max Cowburn and Luke Lloyd.
Pools made it through to the first-round proper with wins over Morpeth Town and FC Halifax Town in the qualifying stages.
They faced Chester in their first-round tie, and a 3-1 victory brings them to Brunton Park as the sides go head-to-head for the right to face Liverpool in round three.
Academy boss Darren Edmondson said: “The lads showed bits of what they’re about in the first round and, with no disrespect to Prescot Cables, who put up a good display, they’ll have to do more of the same again if they want to get through in what will be a much tougher game.
“Harltepool beat us in a Youth Alliance Cup group game in September, but we created some good chances and had some decent spells of football in that game. If we play the same way, but take our chances, we should give ourselves a good chance.
“We’ve obviously seen Hartlepool up close in that fixture and we’ve also watched footage of some of their other games. They’re a decent team but, as ever, it comes down to whichever team does the right things on the day will be the one to go through.”
Progression to round three brings a home fixture against Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool side for the victors, and the youth boss admitted that nerves could play a factor under the floodlights on Tuesday night.
“With the competition being the way it is, you often get to know the opponents for the next round well in advance, and there were a few smiles when the lads found out it was Liverpool,” he commented. “They will obviously want to bring them up here because it doesn’t matter what the level is, Liverpool are a huge club.
“However, Hartlepool will be thinking exactly the same way. They’ll know that if they come here and get the result they’ll be the ones to have a great fixture to look forward to in the next round. There’ll be nerves, firstly because this game is on the main pitch and under the lights, but also because there is the next round to look forward to.
“Part of football is being able to handle those nerves, and the added energy they bring, so you can turn it into a positive. It should be a good game and hopefully quite a few people will get down to cheer the lads on.”
Prices for this fixture are £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Entry is via the west side of the stadium.
United v Hartlepool, Tuesday 28 November, kick off 7pm, Brunton Park