It’s not just the first team in FA Cup action this weekend as Darren Sarll’s U18s take their first step in this season’s FA Youth Cup with a first round tie at Barton Rovers tomorrow night.
Last year was a record-breaking year for the youngsters as they reached the fourth round for the first time in the club’s history, seeing off Luton (3-0), MK Dons (6-2) and Premier League Wigan (2-1) before eventually falling to a 4-3 defeat to Barnsley at Oakwell.
This year sees Boro start with a tricky-looking tie away at Barton Rovers, who will be no pushovers after seeing off Barnet 3-0 at The Hive in the previous round.
Darren told us, “Last year was a good one as it was the first time the club got to the fourth round. Whenever you make a statement like that you set a precedent for anyone to come. The FA Youth Cup can be unbelievable one year and horrendous the year after. You’ve got to be so careful, especially when you’re going to the likes of Barton Rovers, who as a team have been together for a good eight years and are very knowledgeable about each other and know their strengths and weaknesses.
“We all know about giant killings and why they happen. It’s not just the real FA Cup where they happen either. It’ll all be about attitude. What we can’t do is have that mental picture of playing Barnsley at Barnsley. We have to remember the struggle we went through to get there. We have to make sure the boys know psychologically that they’re in for a real toughie.
“We know quite a lot about Barton, we tried to sign their centre forward last year! He’s a very good footballer. It won’t be an easy game. If we don’t do things properly then we’re in for one hell of a night. If we do things properly then there will be no problems. With the group we’ve got at the moment, the results so far this season suggest that.”
Kick-off at Barton's Sharpenhoe Road ground is 7.45pm tomorrow with a trip to Portsmouth awaiting the winner in round two.