ARGYLE’S youngsters will foreshadow the Pilgrims’ senior side on Tuesday when they take on Cheltenham in the first round of the FA Youth Cup.
Kevin Hodges’ Academy side line up at Whaddon Road at the beginning of a week when Argyle enter the Emirates FA Cup at the same opening-round stage, away to Mansfield on Guy Fawkes Day.
“It’s a special occasion for our young players, as it is for our senior players in the FA Cup proper,” said Academy head Kevin.
“The occasion is a big one for them and obviously they want to progress in the competition. It’s important we go there, enjoy our evening, and play our football as we can.
“They get an opportunity of playing in the main stadium, which is a fantastic learning curve although, in fairness to our boys, we have given them that exposure in the Peninsula League. They are used to playing under floodlights, so that shouldn’t be a major issue.
“It’s all part of their learning and they need to be able to deal with these matches and manage them effectively. Hopefully, we can control our emotions and concentrate on the football side of things.”
After having lost early to familiar foes in recent seasons, the aim for Argyle will be to steer a course to the third round at which point, like the senior competition, the bigger clubs enter the tournament.
“We play Cheltenham in the Youth Alliance League,” said Kevin. “We have already played them up at a Cheltenham and had a 2-2 draw. Now, it’s a cup competition and the team that performs better on the night will have a chance of progression.
“It’s nice that we’re not playing Portsmouth because we have had them for the last two years!
“Three years ago, we got on a nice little run and that’s what we say to the boys: ‘If you are able to progress through a couple of rounds, you can come up against one of the bigger teams and play on their pitch.’
“Some of our players had that experience against Aston Villa at Villa Park a few years ago.”
Among the side – and scorers – in Birmingham that night were current first-team left-back Ben Purrington and former Home Park professional Aaron Bentley, whose brother Jordan is part of the Pilgrims’ current youth team.
Argyle (v Cheltenham Town, Whaddon Road, 7pm): Michael Cooper; Harry Hodges, Callum Rose, Jordan Bentley, Ryan Law; Aaron Taylor, Josh Richards, Dan Rooney; Alex Fletcher, Connor McAuley, Alex Battle. Substitutes: Luke Jephcott, Max Childs (gk), Billy Craske, Elliott Crawford, Cameron Sangster.