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18 January 2024



18 January 2024

Following our U18s’ FA Youth Cup defeat at Coventry City on Wednesday evening, Nicky Eaden expressed his disappointment at the manner of his side’s exit from the competition.

Despite taking an early lead, the young Reds never really got going and were brutally punished by their hosts, who set up a fifth round tie with either Grimsby Town or Millwall.

“I’ve been here probably 18 months and that’s the worst performance I’ve seen – and that’s not a knee-jerk reaction,” insisted Eaden. “From start to finish, it’s the worst we’ve played both in and out of possession.

“Last season, there were times where we didn’t play great football, but 95% of the time, you could rely on us to do the out of possession stuff and be hard to beat and hard to break down, and we haven’t done that.

“In possession, as good as we’ve been this season, even that’s by far the worst we’ve been. There was no creativity, uncertainty on the ball, players taking too many touches and not doing the simple things well.

“The biggest disappointment is that we had a great chance with the teams that we’ve drawn to go and progress quite far in this competition.”

While this now presents an opportunity for our U18s to focus on retaining their Professional Development League title, Eaden admits there are frustrations that Barnsley were unable to progress further – especially facing a team who the young Reds had beaten comfortably earlier this campaign.

With a more favourable draw in the fifth round, it presented a realistic opportunity of going deeper in this competition than we have before.

“We were focusing on the league anyway; we take the next game as it comes,” stated our U18s coach. “This was a great chance for us. I think Coventry were virtually the same team – there might have been one or two changes from the one that we beat and beat well earlier in the season.

“Because we did that, we stopped them playing, and you couldn’t have got any further away from that performance.

“I said to them that they’ve got to get used to producing performances under pressure because once you’re a pro and you’re playing first team football, that’s what you get every week.”

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