Two-goal hero Aiden Marsh heaped praise on his coaching staff and teammates as the architects of Thursday evening’s FA Youth Cup third round triumph over Crewe Alexandra.
Barnsley U18s ran out 2-1 winners at Gresty Road thanks to the striker’s second half brace, but he insists his side executed their game plan to perfection thanks to the hard work behind-the-scenes.
“The team was class; our build up play was really good,” exclaimed Marsh. “Obviously, Tom [Harban], Sam [Collins] and Bobby [Hassell] put a lot of hard work into it, so I’d like to thank them for the build-up into the game, and then the lads put in place what we did in training.
“Everyone grafted and played really well; it wasn’t just a one man performance and we deserved it. The four lads in defence were brilliant. I’ve grown up with Sam Nicholson and know how good he is, so I’m confident with him at the back.”
Marsh opened the scoring midway through the second half as his deflected effort looped over Andrew Walklate and into the top corner.
He doubled his tally with five minutes left, driving at the heart of a retreating Alex backline before firing a low drive underneath the goalkeeper to secure safe passage to the fourth round.
“The first one is a bit lucky; it’s deflected off a defender, but the second one I’ve just smashed it and it’s gone under the goalkeeper – if you don’t shoot, you don’t score,” admitted the young striker. “Sometimes you need a bit of luck, but that’s why I try to get my shots away.”
Victory over the Railwaymen has set up a clash with either Sunderland or Birmingham City in the next round, with those two set to go head-to-head on Thursday 12 December.
The motivation of walking out at a main stadium is something that drives the youngsters on, and just playing and scoring at Gresty Road is something that will long in the memory for Marsh.
“I can’t believe it,” admitted the clinical youngster. “It’s been a great experience just to play – last year we got knocked out in the first round, so to get through and play at either St Andrews or the Stadium of Light is a big incentive for the lads.”
Up next for the U18s is a trip to Burnley in the Professional Development League on Saturday 14 December.
It’s the young Reds’ final game of 2019 and Marsh wants to take the momentum from their cup triumph and seal victory over the Clarets.
“Hopefully we can end the year well,” he insisted. “Confidence will be high, all the lads will be buzzing for the game so hopefully it’s another three points and we’ll see where we can get to.”