BURTON Albion reached the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup for only the second time in our Academy’s history - and now the Young Brewers have a trip to Southampton to prepare for.
Watched by chairman Ben Robinson as well as several members of the first-team coaching staff, the Brewers took the lead three times away at Stoke City last Friday night at Clayton Wood training ground, with goals from Charlie Williams, Luke Redfern and Callum Niven securing a 3-2 victory against the category one Potters side.
It was as hard-fought a victory as you will see, with Albion undeterred by twice being pegged back to take the lead after more than 100 minutes of play, and hold out resolutely to take a deserved win over two hours of high intensity football.
It is the second time Albion's Academy have reached the fourth round following the 2012/13 campaign, where the Brewers met a Leeds United side that included the likes of Lewie Coyle, Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Kalvin Phillips.
Professional Development Phase Lead Coach Sam Rose was delighted with and for his side, particularly their bravery throughout the tie.
“It was a long night and the lads got through a lot of work,” said Rose. “They worked tremendously hard to get the result.
“We went a goal up, got pegged back, scored a second, got pegged back and then scored a really good third goal, a good cross and a good quality finish.
“Then we’ve just had to defend - we’ve defended as a team and maybe got away with one or two things you might expect them to do better with.
“But it’s a cup game, a one-off game and we did enough to win it.
“The majority of the players have gone through the full 120 minutes, defending he goal bravely, putting their bodies on the line, defining bravely and stuck together.
“We saw some really positive things from the lot of them.”
Academy Manager Dan Robinson was similarly delighted with the performance - and from the support at Clayton Wood.
“It was a fantastic performance through 120 minutes of football, and I couldn’t be more delighted for the players, the coaching staff and everyone within the Academy,” said Robinson.
“As Sam said, the efforts of the players were there for all to see, and they thoroughly deserved that moment together as the final whistle went.
“It was great to see the chairman and members of the first-team coaching staff at Stoke, too.
“We have spoken a lot before about the importance of the pathway from youth to senior football, and the players can see that when they know first team staff are here to watch them.
“Now it’s on to another big game against Southampton, and a place in the fourth round of this competition.”
Friday’s win was the perfect response to a difficult start to the calendar year, which has seen the Brewers lose some form in the EFL Youth Alliance.
“Both teams will look at the five goals conceded and think ‘we’d like to do better’,” said Rose.
“I said to the boys we’ve not been great coming into this, and we’ve not seen a lot of what we’ve seen tonight.
“We’ve had a bit of a dip in form but hopefully now we can enjoy the rest of the season.
“There was a lot of scrappy stuff tonight but we needed to do and we’ll measure ourselves off the back of the effort.
“We can say ‘think back to that last 15 minutes at Stoke, why can’t that be the consistent approach (and why can’t we) do that all the time?’”
For now then, the Brewers can look ahead to a quick turnaround - and another huge game - at Southampton a week tomorrow.
“We play a week on Tuesday - so Southampton away on a Tuesday night!” said Rose.
“It’s brilliant to be able to test ourselves in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup. I’ve been disappointed in the outcomes since the turn of the year because I think this group has got potential.
“They’ve shown a bit against Stoke, and have a fourth round fixture against a really good team.
“It’ll be really good for everyone to test themselves, including coaching staff and players, and it’ll be a good experience all-round.”