We take our first steps in this year’s competition when we meet Rotherham United in the third round at the Lamex Stadium, kick-off 7pm.
We’ve traditionally had great support in the FA Youth Cup, as was in evidence last season when we made it through to the semi-finals, and Under-18s Coach Kieran says more of that backing will not only give the lads a boost as they bid to perform well on the night, but it’ll also help to prepare them for playing in front of large crowds in a senior environment as their careers progress.
“Some of the boys will have played at Stevenage in Under-21s games, but for some of them it will be one of the first times that they’ve played in an evening match under floodlights so hopefully with a crowd in a senior stadium it will bring a similar atmosphere to what they’ll experience later in their careers,” said Kieran.
“We’ve always had fantastic support – last year in the good run that we had, we enjoyed really good vocal support so that adds to the atmosphere and I think it gives the boys a little bit more in their performances as well.”
There must be a winner tonight, with extra time and penalties to decide the tie if the scores are level at the end of the 90 minutes. Kieran admits the knockout nature of the competition means it’s a slightly different proposition to a usual Barclays Under-18 Premier League game, but he insists the players’ focus remains on producing good performances on the pitch.
“The FA Youth Cup is a tournament the boys all look forward to,” he explained. "Nationally it gets good recognition and it’s obviously a knockout format which is different for the players, so it’s an important part of their development in terms of dealing with the nerves that might come with it, but we hope that they’ll go out and do themselves justice.
“The message from us is that the expectations are the same as any other game. We’ll treat it like the rest of our games in terms of the build-up, we’ll concentrate on the quality of our performances individually and then hopefully bring that all together into a quality team performance.
“For the boys, this is another game in a long development pathway towards hopefully having good careers in the game.”
Tickets, priced at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions (over-60s and under-16s) are still available for tonight’s game via Stevenage FC, either at their club shop or online at this link.
Follow us on Twitter @SpursOfficial for live updates this evening.