Hull City: Young Tigers face Northampton for place in last 16 of FA Youth Cup
HULL City’s under-18s will aim to eclipse the fortunes of the club’s senior ranks tonight as they target a place in the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup at Northampton Town.
After twice seeing their fourth round tie at the Sixfields Stadium fall victim to the weather this month, Billy Russell’s young Tigers will get the chance to build on their impressive third round win over Swansea.
A fifth round tie at home to Leicester awaits the victors and City will be desperate to avoid the FA Cup fate suffered by Steve Bruce’s first team, who lost 1-0 against Barnsley at the weekend.
“It’s going to be difficult but the lads are up for it,” said academy boss Russell.
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“They’re not getting carried away by the result in the last round, they’re focused on Northampton. Over the years the boys have preferred playing away from home sometimes.
“I can remember going to Leeds (2006-07) and Stoke (2009-10) and coming away with wins. There was also a game at Crystal Palace where we lost narrowly (2007-08) which was the best FA Youth Cup performance during my time here.
“They’ve got their parents, grandparents and school friends who all come along to a home game in the FA Youth Cup because it’s a big deal and maybe that puts an extra weight on. There’s maybe less pressure on them when they play away from home.”
Standing between City and a place in the last 16 are a Northampton side Russell will not take lightly. The Cobblers have seen off both Chesterfield and York City, two opponents from the Tigers’ Youth Alliance North East Conference, as well as beating Canvey Island in the third round.
An extra-time winner from Harry Cardwell booked City’s trip to the Sixfields Stadium in a 3-2 win over Swansea City on December 19, but the poor weather has since meant the Tigers have only played once in six weeks.
Although City’s interrupted schedule has been far from ideal, Russell knows his side will take great heart from defeating the Premier League Swans, the club’s first win in the FA Youth Cup since 2010.
“It was beginning to annoy people that we kept getting knocked out by the odd goal so it felt like a monkey off our backs in some ways,” added Russell.
“The most pleasing thing from the Swansea game is the boys stuck to the game-plan we’d all come up with.
“We were happy to let Swansea play in front of us and took our chances well.
“It was disappointing to let the lead slip but when we got to 90 minutes all square, we showed character to come through.
“A lot of the younger boys pulled us through and that was pleasing for us to see.
“Afterwards, we didn’t feel we played as well with the ball as we can but that can improve.”