After reaching the semi-final last year my personal expectation was to try and emulate at least that achievement this year. However that was always going to be a difficult task when we were drawn away at Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.
Don’t get me wrong, we were all looking forward to the game as soon as the draw was made but a home tie would have been really good!
FA Youth Cup: Manchester United v Newcastle United
We travelled to the North West on the day of the game and stopped at a hotel to rest up before we went out for a walk later on to stretch our legs.
After a pre-match meal, we had a team meeting to highlight and remind us what we had achieved so far this season and what we were coming up against with Manchester United.
Even though the game wasn’t at Old Trafford which was disappointing, it was obvious even as we warmed up that there was going to be a reasonable crowd at the game which is always what you want.
Two spectators in particular caught our sides attention, we were stood in the tunnel ready to run out and then Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton strolled past us to take their seats in the stand. Both are legends of the game, Sir Alex of course has enjoyed unparalleled success at United since he took over in 1986, while Sir Bobby Charlton is a fellow Geordie and virtually took England to the World Cup final single-handedly in 1966.
Nothing could motivate a player more than playing infront of two of the biggest personalities in sport.
Despite media reports to the contrary, we actually started the game quite brightly and put Manchester United on the back foot which was definitely part of our game plan. But unfortunately, we just couldn’t maintain this and if you then ally this to us starting to give the ball away cheaply, well frankly you’ve got trouble on your hands.
And so it proved, they slowly got a hold of the game played some good stuff working our keeper on a number of occasions. It was 0-0 at half-time, this led us to believe that we could still take something from the game and we came out determined to try and find an opener.
However despite creating a few half chances, the second half followed much of the same pattern as the first and their superiority of possession finally took its toll when Ravel Morrison hit the game’s only goal with a shot that flew in off the underside of the bar.
We battled well and pushed them to the end but it wasn’t to be. Although we’re disappointed with the exit, we have no regrets as we gave it our all but we just came up against a stronger team.
It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in the next round as Liverpool were drawn to play the winners of our tie.
We had the opportunity to bounce back from the defeat against Sheffield United who beat us earlier this season in a great encounter but our revenge was delayed and postponed due to snow.
This weekend we are up against their city rivals, Sheffield Wednesday.