By Declan Taylor

FA Youth Cup right-back Craig Eastmond thinks that Arsenal’s collective belief allows them to win games even when they are trailing.

For the third time in the competition, the Under-18s overturned a half-time deficit to secure a 2-1 first-leg advantage in their Semi Final against Manchester City on Wednesday night.

The Citizens sit 15 points clear at the top of their Premier Academy League and, before Wednesday’s reverse, had not suffered a defeat at youth level all season. Despite that impressive record, Eastmond was always confident of victory even after going behind.

“Everyone on the team is always confident that we should win when we go out on the pitch,” the 18-year-old told after the victory.

“We’re always disappointed to go behind, it’s not something we want to do but obviously if we go behind we can come back. In ourselves we think we should win.

“It shows our big character. Obviously we were 1-0 down and everybody needed to pick their heads up and keep encouraging everyone to keep going.”

The Wandsworth-born defender has not missed a second of the Gunners’ Youth Cup campaign so far this term as part of a starting XI that has stayed relatively settled since their Third-Round victory at Aston Villa in December.

That stability is invaluable to their chances of winning the competition, explained Eastmond.

“I think it’s most important to have the same squad throughout the whole competition,” he said. “If it changes it’s probably down to injury but everyone keeps encouraging whoever steps in.

“It makes everyone aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses which can only be a good thing.”

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19 Mar 2009