Greatest Show on Turf

THE sight of the Argyle bus heading northwards is not a unusual one to the lanes of the M6 – but this week the circumstances are rather different.

For this week it is inhabited not by Derek Adams’ first-team squad, who are at home to Bury this Saturday, but to Kevin Hodges and his Academy lads, who go in search once again of a historic result.

The Argyle Under-18 squad face Burnley, on Friday night, January 5, at Turf Moor, for the right to be in the last 16 of the prestigious competition.

The young Pilgrims started their FA Youth Cup fight when they played Eastleigh at Home Park and soared through the game, thrashing them 7-2.

The second-round tie was a toughly-fought match against AFC Wimbledon where a last-minute goal from Klaidi Lolos resulted in us winning 3-2.

But by far the most impressive was the match that won Argyle their place in the fourth round where we beat Man City’s academy team 6-5 on penalties after a game that saw them play 120 minutes of challenging football, ultimately ending goalless.

The trip up to Burnley will be the first away fixture that the young boys will face in the FA Youth Cup as their past 3 games were all held at Home Park. It is to be held at Turf Moor and kick off is at 7pm.

“It’s something the players have been really looking forward to: once again, playing a premiership side,” said Kevin Hodges. “I think we’re still the underdogs, no doubt about that, but it’s a massive challenge. It’s a completely different challenge to what we had against Man City.”

Burnley kicked off their FA Youth Cup battle in the third-round tie where they played Leeds. They won 1-0 with a goal in the last six minutes that came from their first-year scholar Jordan Cooper.

Hodges said: “Burnley are a team that will be of a little bit more variety. They’ll look to play at times, but they will also go more direct and try and turn us so will we definitely have to be our best on the day as we always try to be.

“Another challenge is that we’re going away this time, it’s on another league ground and it’s a lovely opportunity for our boys.

“I think the boys’ feet are firmly back on the ground now after the success against Manchester City.

“They’re well aware of what they’ve achieved, [Man City] are one of the best academies in this country and in the world.

“What impressed me against Man City was that for 120 minutes we were totally focused on what we had to do, and we saw the job through.To go and take the penalties in the manner that we did was really impressive.”

 The team intend to use the same game plan as the one used in the victory over Man City, hoping that it will bring them the same luck as before.

“When we get in control of the ball we want to show exactly what we can do,” Kevin said. “We’ve got some good players; some good technical players who can pass it, be creative and can score goals so we want to try and be in a position where we can show that off.

“At the same time, when we haven’t got the ball, we’ve got to be focused, organised and very disciplined to stop goals going in the other end.”