Stevenage U18s take on Wealdstone in the second round of the FA Youth Cup tomorrow night (Weds 19th, 7.15pm) at The Lamex Stadium.
Two consecutive league wins in the past week against Dagenham (4-0) and Leyton Orient (3-0), plus the bonus of two clean sheets, mean the youngsters will go into this game full of confidence.
With the 4-3 first round win over Needham Market making it three wins from four games, Head of Youth Darren Sarll told us he’s pleased how his side have bounced back from a difficult, inconsistent run of results.
“It happens every year. It’s what young players do especially when you have half a group of lads who are four months out of leaving school and the other half who are 14 months out of leaving school. The inconsistencies are there but there’s no magic formula for coming out of those spells. You just need to work hard and keep going back to basics.
"To their credit the boys have worked really, really hard, they’ve been a lot harder to break down and beat and you can see that in two clean sheets.
“Saturday’s 3-0 win at Leyton Orient was probably the most convincing win of the season. George Casey scored an excellent goal from long range with his left foot, Dale Gorman tucked home a penalty after Louis Yamfam was brought down in the box and Ross Millard scored the third with about 10 minutes to play, running inside the full-back, getting slipped in and finishing one-on-one with the keeper
“They had one shot all game from 20 yards, which we blocked on the penalty spot. I can’t remember our goalkeeper making a save. For a character like me that’s pleasing as I like my sides to have that steel as well as style.
“Three wins in four games is good, everyone sees themselves in a better place in the table and they have a positive feeling of winning. We’re in a completely different place now. When you’ve got two really convincing results, that self-doubt that sometimes comes with losing has gone. There’s certainly no danger of complacency settling in though – when we’ve gone a number of weeks without winning it’s clear the lads have been through too much to risk resting on their laurels now.”
Wealdstone beat Dagenham & Redbridge at home to set up this tie and Darren took a few moments to speak about their opponents.
“Wealdstone will be a better team than Needham Market and they’re in Round 2. They went up against a Football League side and beat them and quite convincingly by looking at the video. So this will be a tough, tough game. Whenever watching a non-league side you always add 20%. When they come to The Lamex it’ll be the best ground some of them have ever played at and that adrenaline spikes. Add 20% to whatever team you think you know and they’ll be a good side. They’ll have a really good go and hopefully our little bit of quality will stand up.”
“The incentive is for us to do well tomorrow, get that win and we know what awaits the winner in Round 3.”
Stevenage v Wealdstone is a 7.15pm kick-off on Wednesday 19th November. Only the West Stand will be open and gates open at 6.15pm. Tickets cost £5 adults, £2 concessions (over-60s and under-16s). The winner of this tie will face Everton at home in the third round.