IF THERE were fears that Stoke City’s youngsters would freeze under the spotlight of Brighton & Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium in the last round of the FA Youth Cup, then they were wholly unfounded.
Despite heading into December’s clash on the back of some patchy League form and a spate of injuries, the Potters rose to the occasion, romping to a 4-0 win with their most convincing performance of the season.
Their display was so impressive that it raised hopes of bettering last year’s run in the competition, when they were knocked out by eventual finalists Blackburn Rovers in the last 16.
Huddersfield will provide a stern test of City’s credentials though, having lost only five of their 17 games this year and they easily dispatched Hartlepool United 3-0 in the Third Round.
The winner of Wednesday night’s clash at the Britannia Stadium will make the trip to either Nottingham Forest or Rochdale in the Fifth Round.
ACADEMY MANAGER DAVE WRIGHT
“We were really pleased with the Brighton performance. It was a professional job that we did there and I don’t think they caused us any real problems.
“We won’t be taking Huddersfield lightly, however – we’ve got some DVDs of them and they look a decent, well-organised outfit. It’s a knockout competition, so all the lads are really motivated for it, but it’s going to be another tough game for us.
“We’re opening up Wednesday’s game to local kids, like we did last year. We’re inviting all the surrounding schools to come and watch free of charge, so hopefully that will help generate a crowd.”
CITY SQUAD LIST
James Alabi, Jake Cook, Sam Coulson, Kelvin Douglas, Dale Eve (GK), Joseph Hulme, Eddy Lecygne, Peter Makrillos, Kieran Monlouis, Callum Pilkington, Derice Richards, Nathan Ricketts-Hopkinson, Ed Sanders, Kris Scott, Joel Taylor, Charles Weston-Hayles, Joe Wildsmith (GK).
TOWN SQUAD LIST
Ben Atkinson, Regan Booty, William Boyle, Thomas Briggs, Jake Charles, George Conway, Ryan Cox, Kedesh Goddard, Sam Guthrie (GK), Ben Holmes, Duane Holmes, Fraser Horsfall, Danny Morton, Paul Mullin, Rekeil Pyke, Mikey Starkey, Ed Wilczynski (GK), Joe Wilkinson, Joe Wright.
FROM THE DUGOUT… JOHN PERKINS
“My experience is that when younger players play on their home ground, they find it a bit harder. Everyone at the Club will be watching, so there’s a bit more pressure for them, but they understand that.
“It’s a great challenge for them to play on that stage. We went to Brighton in a similar situation, against a team who have a history of cup upsets, and played very well. It’s a bit different this time though – there’s no travelling, no getting together on the way down there, so they have more time to think about it.
“We’ve had Huddersfield watched two or three times, and we’ve had some good reports on them. We’ve gone into detail with our lads so they know exactly what they’re up against.
“At the beginning of the season, everyone starts talking about the FA Youth Cup, and why not? It’s a prestigious competition. We’ve got a very young side at the moment so it’ll be an even better experience for them.”
FROM THE DRESSING ROOM… JAKE COOK
“It will be a good experience for us, and I think it will help our development overall, like for example getting used to a crowd and feeling what those situations are like.
“I’m hoping it will be a decent crowd. A few family and friends will be watching, so it will be good to see them and show them what we can do.
“The FA Youth Cup is the biggest competition that we’ll be involved in at this level. It’s always nice to do well in it and try and go as far as possible.
“We’ve heard Huddersfield are a good team. We know what our strengths are and what their strengths are, but we’ll just be looking to play our football and hopefully get the win.”
POTTERS FORM (LWWLL)
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 STOKE CITY (Under-18s Premier League) – 12/01/2013
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-4 STOKE CITY (FA Youth Cup Third Round) – 11/12/2012
STOKE CITY 1-0 Sunderland (Under-18s Premier League) – 1/12/2012
Southampton 2-0 STOKE CITY (Under-18s Premier League) – 24/11/2012
Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 STOKE CITY (Under-18s Premier League) – 17/11/2012
TERRIERS FORM (DWLLW)
Wigan Athletic 3-3 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (Under-18s Premier League) – 12/01/2013
Hartlepool Town 0-3 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (FA Youth Cup Third Round) – 11/12/2012
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 1-4 Nottingham Forest (Under-18s Premier League) – 17/11/2012
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 1-3 Crewe Alexandra (Under-18s Premier League) – 03/11/2012
Leicester City 1-4 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (Under-18s Premier League) – 27/10/2012
A POTTED HISTORY
Stoke City have a long history in the FA Youth Cup, having reached the Final in 1984 before losing to Everton.
Last year’s run to the last 16 was the furthest they have progressed in the competition since the 1993/94 season, when they were seen off by Arsenal at the same stage.
They have met the Terriers once before in the competition, with the Potters being defeated 2-0 in the Second Round in 1976.
£3 for adults & £1 for under 17s/Over 65s. Pay on turnstiles.
FA YOUTH CUP 4th ROUND TIES
Port Vale v Everton
Norwich City v Millwall
Reading v Bolton Wanderers
STOKE CITY v HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
Charlton Athletic v Chelsea
Leeds United v Burton Albion
Nottingham Forest v Rochdale
Arsenal v Fulham
Birmingham City v Bristol Rovers
Oxford United or Barnsley v Stevenage
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
Derby County v Ipswich Town
Histon v Liverpool
Northampton Town v Hull City
Leicester City v Peterborough United
For a full list of Stoke City Under-18s' fixtures and results, including links to match reports, clickHERE