We have the opportunity to book our place in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup on Saturday when we host West Bromwich Albion at Meadow Park.
THE STORY SO FAR
We head into this fixture off the back of a thrilling 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur, which sealed our qualification for the last-16.
It was our north London rivals who opened the scoring, but thanks to a thumping finish from Ben Cottrell, we were able to level.
The visitors then went on to take the lead once more, only this time they were unable to handle our attacking talent. Bukayo Saka equalised in the 51st minute from the spot, taking the game to extra time, before Xavier Amaechi and Folarin Balogun gifted us a two-goal advantage.
Promising winger Saka then went on to score again in the second half of extra-time, rifling the ball into the top corner from 20 yards.
Prior to that we ran out comfortable 2-0 winners over Northampton Town, thanks to a composed first-half finish from Balogun and a looping effort by Zak Swanson.
Outside of the FA Youth Cup, we’re currently second in the U-18 Premier League table on 33 points, having been beaten twice this season, winning 11.
West Brom will head into Saturday’s clash full of confidence, having scored 10 goals in their opening two FA Youth Cup clashes.
They kicked-off the tournament with a convincing 5-1 win over Lincoln City, before replicating the same scoreline against QPR in the fourth round.
Jamie Soule remains their top goalscorer in the competition after scoring braces in both of their outings so far, while Finn Azaz, Morgan Rogers and Rayhaan Tulloch all have two to their names.
However, their good form in the cup hasn’t transferred to the U-18 Premier League, as they currently find themselves rock bottom of the table.
The Baggies have only managed to gain six points from 12 outings this season, winning once and drawing three times.
THE MANAGER’S NOTES
“Every game you play is going to be tough in this competition,” said Ken Gillard. “West Brom were a very difficult team to play against when we faced them earlier this season. They’re very organised and look to frustrate you.
“We just need to regroup, see how we are and hopefully get one or two injured players back because that will make us a little bit stronger. We just need to focus on the next game and see where we go from there.”
ONE TO WATCH
With West Brom most likely adopting a defensive strategy, we’ll be needing the quick feet and creativity of Cottrell to unlock the Baggies defence on Saturday.
The attacking midfielder has a real eye for a pass, and with players such as Balogun, Saka and Amaechi in attack, the 17-year-old will be spoilt for choice in the final third.
In addition to this, Cottrell has also scored three goals in each of his last three appearances in all competitions.
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