FA Youth Cup Preview | WBA vs. Cardiff City
Cardiff City’s U18 side face West Bromwich Albion in the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday 31st March, with a 7pm kick-off at The Hawthorns.
The match will be streamed live in the UK on Cardiff City TV and can be viewed free of charge.
Bloxham | An opportunity we’re relishing
Ahead of the Youth Cup clash, Bluebirds U18 Coach Matthew Bloxham explained the added incentive of contesting the match at The Hawthorns.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Matthew. “It’s a great opportunity for the players to showcase their abilities against an established Category 1 side. Building on the last round, a lot of players have made really positive steps, and the opportunity to play in a Premier League stadium is something that everybody in the team is relishing. Everyone is looking forward to that challenge.
“This bunch of players have got a great ability to compete, and a great competitive nature to go alongside their talent. They can’t wait to get going, and we’re having to hold them back a bit in training, because they’re raring to go. We’re hoping to see some positive individual performances but also a really positive team performance.
“We pride ourselves on working hard in the week, and we’re more than capable of maintaining a high level throughout 90 minutes and into extra-time. That is credit to the whole squad, not just the starting players but the finishing players who come on and make a real difference.”
FA YOUTH CUP R3 | DERBY COUNTY 2-3 CARDIFF CITY (AET)
Crole | We’ve got nothing to fear
James Crole scored a brace as City defeated Derby County in the Third Round, and the young striker is hoping to get on the scoresheet once again against the Baggies.
“The Youth Cup games are the biggest games of our season,” James said. “We’ve been working hard, and there’s a real togetherness in the group. We’re all looking forward to the game. We want to progress further on, and it’s our job to know what we’ve got to do.
“I always enjoy playing in this competition, because it’s such a massive tournament. I’ve been lucky in the games I’ve played to get the goals, but it’s been a great experience, and being on the scoresheet makes that experience even better.
“We’ve got nothing to fear. On our day we can beat anyone, and the boys all know that. It doesn’t really phase us at all, and we’ll play any team without any fear. It’s also nice to play at a different stadium, and get the same experience as the professional players.”
Opposition Focus: The boss
Peter Gilbert spent the majority of his professional playing career in the EFL, making over 100 league appearances for the likes of Birmingham City, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday.
The 37-year-old, who earned ten caps for the Wales U21 team between 2004 and 2005, was previously the U18 Assistant Coach at The Hawthorns, before earning a promotion to the role of U18 Head Coach in 2019.
Ahead of our midweek meeting, Gilbert said: “You want them to enjoy the occasion, but you can do that by winning. That’s the key and the enjoyment part comes from playing well, preparing and knowing their responsibilities as a team, and attacking it like any other game.”
Opposition Focus: Season so far
Category 1 side West Bromwich Albion compete in the U18 Premier League South division, and currently sit in 9th position, having picked up six wins, three draws and ten losses so far this term.
After a four-match unbeaten run in late 2020, the young Baggies have endured a difficult period in the league of late. Gilbert’s men have lost their previous four fixtures, including a 7-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace.
The Baggies were made to wait before they could kick-off their Youth Cup campaign, but secured safe passage to the Fourth Round with a resounding 4-0 victory over Basford Town on March 17th, setting up Wednesday’s clash with the Bluebirds.
Opposition Focus: Ones to watch
Jovan Malcolm has been a handful in front of goal for Albion this season, netting seven strikes throughout the course of the campaign. The forward has also made three appearances for West Brom’s U23 side in the PL2.
Mo Faal has also found the back of the net on seven occasions this term for the Baggies, helping his side secure wins against Arsenal and Southampton earlier in the campaign. An attacker, Faal has also featured for the club’s U23 team on two occasions this term.
Zak Ashworth netted a brace during Albion’s 4-0 win against Basford Town, helping to secure his side’s place in Wednesday’s Fourth Round meeting. The defender has started 15 league games for the Baggies, picking up three yellow cards.