Basford United academy coach Josh Law says his players must ‘enjoy the occasion’ as his and Wayne Scott’s under 18 side prepare to take on Port Vale in the First Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday night.
United reached this stage having miraculously overcome Lincoln United two weeks ago on penalties when they were 2-0 down at half-time which followed previous wins over Alfreton Town, Lutterworth Athletic and Mickleover.
And whilst a second-round tie at home to Grimsby Town await the winners before the illustrious prospect of potentially facing the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in the third round, Law has lauded his players’ efforts for getting this far.
“The lads are really looking forward to going to Vale Park and they have worked so hard to get to this stage,” the ex-Motherwell and York City midfielder said.
“They have to go and enjoy the occasion on Wednesday, and we all know that players enjoy the bigger occasions when you can compete and go and show exactly what you’re all about – both as individuals and as a squad.
“As staff at this football club, we are all looking forward to this game and we are intrigued to see how these young lads will go and cope with opposition that is a step up from anything we have faced so far this season.”
“Of course, we will go there with respect, like we do with any side, but it is crucial that we don’t go there with fear or doubt. It is a game of football where, if we compete and do what we’re good at within our structure, then we have a great chance of showing what we are all about.”
It will be only the second time in Basford’s history that they have reached the First Round Proper of any FA Cup competition after they were knocked out of the Youth Cup by Accrington Stanley at the same stage in 2016, under the stewardship of Martin Carruthers and Craig Armstrong.
But with a new influx of players signed up to their esteemed education system, some of whom have already featured for first-team boss Steve Chettle in the Northern Premier League – including 17-year-old Wayde Hines who scored his first senior goal on Saturday – Law has highlighted the club’s progress and the incentive of that level of football for his young players.
“It is fantastic for the club as a whole and really shows that the pathway to Step 3 football is really there for these academy players,” he added.
“We are all delighted for Wayde after he opened his account against Alvechurch at the weekend. He has great potential but much to work on, too, but his progress so far has been huge, so it is up to him to stay focused and take his chances when they come along.
“Rory [Harrison] made his debut as well on Saturday, too, whilst Jordan [Haywood] and Sam [Newell] were both in the squad. Kiarn Nyemba and Sam also made the trip up to Stalybridge last week which is brilliant.
“If they all show a good attitude and train well to their maximum, their ability will shine through and they will get their chances under Steve.
“He is at the club every day watching and monitoring these young players in training and their midweek matches and we have constant discussions about all of them and their progress.
“He has a track record of giving young players the chances in a first-team environment and there is no better motivation for these boys than that.”
United hope to have a full-strength squad to pick from when they make the trip to Stoke-on-Trent and only have doubts over Jericho Bonner after he dislocated a toe prior to the Lincoln United game but expect the winger to be back in training from Monday and will assess him over the next few days.
*Article provided by Marc Williams (Basford United Correspondent).
*Main image @Basfordutdfc Manager Josh Law looking forward to taking on Port Vale.