Ahead of tomorrow’s FA Youth Cup third round tie against Everton, Head of Youth Darren Sarll has been speaking to us about his side’s preparations for the game.
After a recent run of good form which has seen five consecutive wins, the U18s were given an additional helping hand with the postponement of their weekend Youth Alliance game at Watford, handing them an extra day’s preparation for this tie.
Speaking at Shephalbury earlier this afternoon, Darren says he’s looking forward to the occasion and to watching how his players perform, “It’ll be good to see how they handle the occasion. It’s strange, we are the Needham Market and the Wealdstone this time around. We’re at home as well and it’s going to be interesting to see how they react to it, how they react to that situation, how they handle the differentiation in status and so on."
In both wins in this season’s competition Stevenage have come out of the blocks fast and taken the lead within two minutes and fans will be hoping for something similar tomorrow night. Darren continued, "I had that feeling in the first two games that the boys would score early because of the sheer determination and urgency to get into the tunnel, out of the tunnel and get the ball moving. That was a completely different test culturally and psychologically to what we have Tuesday.
"You get a feel when you get there. As a coach you try and play off the environment that the players create. Sometimes you calm it down, sometimes you grease it up and try get them going.
"I think the last thing I’ll say to them before they go out there is 'smile, enjoy it, be happy to be here'. I think we forget they’re 16 or 17 years old some of them – four or five months ago half of this group were sitting GCSEs. Now they’re playing Everton."
Their opponents reached the last eight of the FA Youth Cup last season and have started this season in impressive form, sitting second in the north group of the Barclay's U18 Premier League.
"The fact they’re second in their respective league is enough to know there’s a threat," said Darren. "If they’re a threat for Manchester United and Manchester City then they’ll be a threat to others as well. I’m quite laid back about it though – I’ve been involved in so many games like this in round 3 and round 4 that you end up getting filled with so much about ‘them’. ‘They’ have him, ‘they’ do this, ‘they’ play this way. It doesn’t really matter to me.
"They’re a good side, of course they are, they’re Everton Football Club. So it’s a massive club, a big institution for football. We know they’ll be a threat and we know we’ll have to play well.
"But I want to let the boys do the talking. I want to let them go out and play. You’ve got to know your enemy, I get that whole heartedly. At the same time you’ve got to know your own team. You’ve got to know how you’re going to play, why your strengths will attack their certain weakness and so on and so forth.
"It’ll be a good night."
Tickets for Tuesday night's game against Everton (7pm) will be available online at www.borotickets.co.uk until midday at Tuesday, priced at £5 adults and £2 concessions. Tickets will also be available on the turnstiles at the same prices on the night.
Fans not able to attend tomorrow game can listen to full match commentary on Boro Player with Steve Watkins and Dean Thompson.