Ahead of their FA Youth Cup first round tie at Barton Rovers, second year scholars Jamie Carey-Morrell and Ryan Towner have been speaking to us about their memories of last year's cup run and what they can expect tomorrow night.
Jamie told us, “Beating Luton 3-0 was nice last year. They were my old club and I was up against the players I used to play with, so it was good to win. But beating Wigan was my favourite moment. Playing a Premier League side and coming away with a win, I’d say, was the highlight of my career so far.”
Looking ahead to Barton, he said, “I know a few of the lads there and know they like to play direct football. But it depends how they play on the night and you never know about the conditions. We’ve just got to rehearse and train as we normally do and then go out and do it in the game. This is a chance where we can prove how good we are.”
Most youth team games are on a Saturday morning but this tie offers the opportunity to play in the evening under floodlights, something which Jamie is looking forward to: “Playing Luton at The Lamex under lights was brilliant last year. You get a buzz, you feel like a first team player and that’s where we aspire to be as scholars. It should be a good game at Barton and I’m looking forward to it."
Meanwhile Ryan told us, “The FA Youth Cup is made for clubs like Stevenage, who are often going in as the underdogs. We had some tough trips last year to the likes of Luton, MK Dons and Barnsley but we coped well and got some good results.
“My highlight last year was beating MK Dons and scoring the fifth goal with a finish that I wouldn’t usually come up with. It was out of the ordinary but it was a special occasion in which to do it."
Turning his attention to this year's competition, he said, “We aim to get to the fourth round and beyond. Drawing Barton in the first round is a potential banana skin for us. With teams like that, anything can happen. We’re the underdogs on this occasion and we know what it’s like for them.
“A trip to Pompey awaits the winner and that’s the incentive at the end of the day. Playing at Fratton Park would be a great experience and being second years this is our last chance to play in it. I was fortunate to play at 16, so I’ve had three years in the competition, but I know this is my last shot and I want to do as well as I can.”