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Our U18s coach previews the upcoming FA Youth Cup tie

16 January 2024



Our U18s coach previews the upcoming FA Youth Cup tie

16 January 2024

Ahead of our FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at Coventry City on Wednesday evening, Nicky Eaden believes his players’ experience of playing first team football – in front of big crowds and in main stadiums – could be crucial.

Jonathan Bland, Fabio Jalo, Emmaisa Nzondo and Vimal Yoganathan have all featured for Neill Collins this term, impressing with their cameo appearances.

“I think there’s quite a few of our lads who have had that exposure, playing on Oakwell, and we went to Carlisle and got a good result earlier in the competition, so I don’t think that will faze us,” said Eaden.

“You don’t want to make too big a thing out of it. At times, you might try and treat it as another game, but you can’t because of the position that we’re in; it’s a decent chance to progress. The further you go in the competition, the more exposure you get.”

Our U18s have a decent track record against their hosts and won 4-1 when the two sides met in Coventry earlier this season.

The young Reds sit second in the Professional Development League, two places and four points above the Sky Blues, so this is likely to be a keenly contested encounter at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Eaden praised the mentality of his squad, who have carried on the positive momentum and upward trajectory from the previous campaign.

“Half your squad changes every season; the second years last year have moved up to the under 21s with Tom and you never really know how the under 16s are going to adapt to full-time football,” he continued.

“They were a quiet group to start with, but they’ve come out of their shells, and the first years from last year – the likes of Blandy, Vimal, Emmaisa – because they played a lot of games last year, you can see a lot of maturity about them.”

There is a winning mentality and a steely determination within this group that is driven as much by hard work and dedication as it is by footballing talent.

It is part of the ethos of the Club, which is implemented by the likes of Eaden – who came through the ranks – and Bobby Hassell, both of whom understand what it means to represent Barnsley.

“There’s always a difficulty in this age group of getting a balance between development and results; the older the kids get and the closer they get to the professional level, there is a greater importance on results because that’s what they’re going into,” assessed our U18s coach.

“So, we can’t be pure development where it doesn’t matter if we get beat as long as the player is developing – it does matter if they get beat because it’s a habit.

“Last year, there were a lot of times where we weren’t playing particularly well or playing champagne football, but we helped the lads find ways to win, and a lot of that comes down to the environment that they’re in every day.

“I’ve been on a lot of courses, and you hear people talking about cultures of excellence and creating environments, but a lot of them are just words – you’ve got to live it. That’s how I was brought up and people might think it’s old school, but those old school values stand you in good stead for football.”

Kick-off for our fourth round clash is at 7pm, and tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £1 for U18s, which are available to pay on the gate at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

You can also follow updates on our official Academy X account (@AcademyBFC), starting with team news at 6pm.

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