Academy manager Josh Law says his side’s approach will ‘never change’ as Basford United U18s prepare to take on Premier League West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Greenwich Avenue tonight (19:00).
Sam Newell’s late strike saw United defeat Grimsby Town in their last game before Christmas and the non-leaguers now remain as the lowest-ranked side in the competition.
But whilst the odds overwhelmingly favour the Baggies – who drew to Tottenham Hotspur in their last outing and sit tenth in the Premier League U18 South division – Law says their preparations won’t be altered as they seek a memorable upset.
“Our approach will never change,” he exclaims. “We will stick to our principles and styles when in possession and look to stay resilient, strong and well organised defensively without the ball – we have been excellent all year in those regards.
“We will look at our strengths in transition and it will take a top performance man-to-man to beat a very good West Brom side.
“My experiences as an underdog throughout the years, though, yields belief,” Law added. “If you stick together, stick to the plan and remain hopeful, then something special might just happen.”
The minnows stunned 10-man Port Vale when they came from a goal down to seal a 4-1 win back in November before victory in a cagier affair against Town last month set up the illustrious tie with Albion – though Covid-19 restrictions will sadly mean no fans will be in attendance to see the biggest game in their long history.
But whilst the club remains in lockdown, with Steve Chettle’s first-team season currently curtailed due to the pandemic, the FA have confirmed that the tie will go ahead as the Youth Cup is classed as an elite tournament albeit behind-closed-doors.
“Covid has impacted us once again but it is completely out of our control,” said Law.
“We are grateful to the FA, however, that we can train and possibly play a friendly before the game, but we will only prepare in line with current guidelines and safety protocols.
“We have been desperate to train as much as we can as it’s been such a huge part of our journey to this stage.
“Everyone at the club, especially the young players, are chomping at the bit to get back at it as they set themselves for the biggest game of their short careers so far.”
Peter Gilbert’s side make the short hop from the West Midlands in indifferent form, and despite them mixing it with the prospects of Arsenal, Leicester City and West Ham United on a weekly basis, Law is under no illusions about the task at hand, with a fixture against Cardiff City in the fourth round awaiting the victors.
“We have received footage of their games this season and they are everything you would expect from a Premier League academy,” he said with a wry smile. “They are full of fantastic athletes and fantastic footballers.
“They press relentlessly and look to go hurt you straight away in their transition phases and they are areas we have to be very mindful of.
“However, this is the third round where dreams come true and the best teams at youth level come out and play. It’s a fantastic challenge that we’re all looking forward to and to see what it’s all about.
“The entire club is very excited to welcome Premier League opposition,” he rounded off. “It’s an outstanding achievement to get this far and we will all enjoy the occasion.”
Despite the restrictions, Basford have confirmed they will be offering a live stream of the match via Greater Manchester-based Film My Match for a small fee, which can be purchased and viewed on the company website in hope it attracts support and interest from the football community.
In addition, United will also be offering free on-the-night audio commentary through broadcast channel, Mixlr, and full information on the game can be found on their website here and social media outlets.
*Article provided by Marc Williams (Basford United Correspondent).
*Main image @BasfordUtd beat Grimsby Town last time out in the FA youth cup.