Don't Stop Believing
PERHAPS the most exciting thing about the journey than Kevin Hodges and his team are taking is that do not know where or when the destination is.
After Eastleigh and Wimbledon were beaten, most would expected Argyle to go down valiantly in round three, against Manchester City.
When the Pilgrims saw off the mighty Sky Blues on penalties following 120 goalless minutes, their luck could have been assumed to have been exhausted before heading to Burnley in round four – and then a last minute Billy Craske winner saw another hurdle hopped.
Now, on Wednesday night at Home Park, the Pilgrims have a fifth round tie against Fulham, with the carrot of Chelsea or Tottenham dangling at the end of it.
“It’s been a fantastic, excellent journey in the FA Youth Cup,” said Kevin Hodges, “and it’s been one the players have thoroughly deserved. We’ve had our challenges along the way.
“It’s been invaluable. For the young players that will be fortunate to go on with the opportunity to be a professional, to break into our first team or someone else’s first team, these experiences that they have been through will put them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Some will not become professionals, but semi-professionals or in different directions. They will treasure this for the rest of their lives.”
Championship side Fulham have a Category 1 Academy, and have already beaten Huddersfield Town and Swansea City on their way to round five. They will prove a tough opposition, but when you have seen off one of the best sides in Europe, one can forgive Argyle a little confidence.
Good game management, organisation and hard work were crucial to the Pilgrims getting past previous opponents, and Kevin will be seeking similar on Wednesday.
Hodges said, of Fulham: “A very well known Academy, known for producing good players. Steve Wigley is head of coaching there, and has good history behind him working at Southampton and brining quality players through.
“We’re going to have to be at our best. We’re going to have to prove we are consistent in what we have done so far. If we go away from that we will make it hard for ourselves. The players are looking forward to it, relishing the opportunity. As a Category 3 football club to get into the last 16 has been excellent. But we want to go further.
“We want to be organised like we have been. We want to be free when we are on the ball, for players to have the confident to get on the ball and play. We want to create some opportunities. The players want to progress, and we all know we will have to be at our best.
“There’s international players on view from Fulham. We want as many people to come along as possible to get behind our lads and perhaps even cheer them on to another win.”
Wednesday's FA Youth Cup tie takes place at Home Park. Entry is £5 for adults, £3 for over 65s and £1 for under 18s. Commentary of the game will be streamed on pafc.co.uk for FREE - you will need to register/sign in to the site to listen.