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The big one

Posted on 5 March 2009  - 12:00

Academy players John Bostock and Ryan Mason say they are preparing for the biggest night of their short careers so far when they face Arsenal in the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup at the Lane tonight (Thursday, March 5).

The big one

Academy players John Bostock and Ryan Mason say they are preparing for the biggest night of their short careers so far when they face Arsenal in the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup at the Lane tonight (Thursday, March 5).

Both teams are top of their respective groups in the FA Premier Academy League. Arsenal have lost twice all season and are 14 points clear in Group B while we've lost just the once and head Group B by four points.

We have put together three-successive 3-0 wins against Sheffield United, Charlton and Plymouth to reach the last eight while the Gunners have beaten Villa, Wolves and Sunderland.

More importantly for our Academy, four players have made first team debuts this season in Bostock - now our youngester-ever player - Mason and starts for Dean Parrett and Jon Obika.

But there is nothing better than a cup game under the lights at the Lane and the lads look set to be cheered on by our biggest crowd for a FAYC game in years.

"I've played in the FA Youth Cup a couple of times now but this is the biggest game I've ever played in, our arch-rivals at home," said midfielder John, who only turned 17 in January.

"We've heard there will be a big crowd and we're all excited. We just want to win, that's the main thing. We've done well so far and we want to progress further.

"We've played well this season, beaten a lot of very good teams and a few of us have managed to get into first-team squads. We're all confident and I can't see any reason why that shouldn't continue."

Ryan is top-scorer with 17 goals in 20 games in all competitions this season. He feels the side is driven by memories of going out of the competition early in a somewhat surprise loss at Port Vale last season.

"We all want it that much more because we went out against a team we feel we should have beaten that night," said Ryan. "We were all determined for that not to happen again. You could see that at Plymouth."

Coach Alex Inglethorpe added: "It's a fantastic draw, two really good teams with the opportunity to play against each other on the big stage in the FA Youth Cup. That hasn't happened very often.

"The flip-side is that it would have been nice to be on opposite sides of the draw because I feel if we'd have avoided each other, there would have been a good chance that both sides would have progressed.

"Both teams will have a lot of talent on show and you just hope that neither team freezes, the big players play, everyone performs and ultimately that we come out on top."

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