ARGYLE’S budding stars have a chance to shine under the lights of Home Park on Tuesday night......as they take on Bristol Academy in the first round of the FA Youth Cup. Kick-off is 7.30pm and admission prices are £3 for all adults, and £1 for under 18s.
The prestigious tournament for under-18s is in its 61st year, and has been won by numerous stars of the game who would later go on to achieve fame and glory.
Last season, Argyle’s youngsters were eliminated in the second round by Oxford United, having beaten local rivals Exeter City 3-0 in their opening fixture.
Argyle Academy Manager Kevin Hodges has plenty of knowledge of Argyle’s opponents this time round, even if they may not be well known to all. Hodges worked for Bristol Rovers’ academy set-up for two years, and Bristol Academy fell under his remit.
“Bristol Academy are based at Filton College,” said Kevin, “When I was working at Bristol Rovers we had a relationship with Filton College. (Rovers) didn’t have apprentices when I was there. The under-18s went to Filton College. One of my roles was to monitor the under-18s, although I was working with the development squad which is in the main part of the club.
“Filton is a fantastic college, but their allegiances have changed. Now they are linked with Bristol City. We went to see them on Wednesday night when they played Tiverton, and in the years since I was there it has really kicked on.
“They are young boys who have had the disappointment of not picking up an apprenticeship so they are going to be coming down here with an opportunity of being in a shop window and playing on the main pitch. It’s going to be a nice experience for them.”
As far as Hodgey’s own fledglings are concerned, he sees this as an excellent opportunity to further their development on the pristine Home Park pitch. A luxury, he points out, that is not afforded to the younger players of many other professional clubs.
“The thought of playing on Home Park is another experience for them,” said Kevin, “Most of them have actually played on the main pitch now, so that’s not going to be a major issue. But being under the lights will be a new experience for some of them and obviously playing in this competition does add a little bit of something special.
“First-team pitches are probably the best they have ever been. We’re quite fortunate that John Sheridan let us play on it last year for one of our league games; I think he realises the importance of it.
“You go to other big clubs and they hardly play on their pitches. Their training facilities are high quality, but nothing ever replaces what you sample, as part of your development, playing on a main pitch.”
Argyle (from): Kieran Asumadu-Sakyi, Aaron Bentley, Jack Calver, Callum Hall, Andrew Hannah (gk), Cory Harvey (gk), Mason Hughes, Josh Hutchinson, Jake Miller, Tom Moxham, Ben Purrington, Louis Rooney, Will Sargent, Ben Steer, Nathan Summers, Jason Vincent, Sol Wheatley.