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Under-18s: Haynes' youngsters looking forward to Arsenal clash

11 December 2019


Under-18s: Haynes' youngsters looking forward to Arsenal clash

11 December 2019

It's a week till the under-18s get set to take on Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup third round at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

A magnificent 8-4 second round victory over Portsmouth has set Pete Haynes' young side up with the opportuntiy to take on the young Gunners under the lights on home soil on Wednesday 18 December.

It promises to be a great occasion for the youth set-up at the club and the under-18s players who have overcome not just Pompey but also Eastleigh to reach this stage of the competition.

There's no denying the size of the challenge that awaits the under-18s but manager Pete Haynes is encouraging his team to believe in the way they went about getting positive results in the two previous rounds.

“What we’ve said to the players is trust the process, to trust each other and to trust themselves," Haynes said.

"That is no different to any other preparation for a game. There’s very much an underdog mentality about the group anyway whether they’re playing Arsenal or Exeter. We always feel like we need to go and do what we need to do to win games.

"In terms of preparation it’ll be very much the same. We’ll train Monday and Tuesday, play the game Wednesday, and the players need to trust the process, themselves and each other. If they do that and it’s enough on the night and they get the victory that will be brilliant. It’s just another game.

“They are a brilliant group of lads. They are very close and are very good with staff both on and off the pitch. When the draw was made there was a real excitement, a real buzz, but also there was a drive to think about whether it was their loan game or their next under-18s game.

"They are very much understanding that the next game is the most important but there’s definitely a bit of a buzz around the group which is good and the way they dispatched Portsmouth and the way we played against Eastleigh there’s a real confidence at home that they can do what they need to do to win the game."

Tickets for the match are available on the night at the turnstiles and are priced at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.

Kick-off is at 7pm and it's hoped Cheltenham supporters will get behind the youngsters for the visit of a Premier League youth side to the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

“The support at both the Portsmouth and Eastleigh games was great," Haynes added.

"It would be nice to see those faces and new faces come. Naturally Arsenal are a fantastic youth academy and have had a lot of success. It is great for us as a challenge to get that exposure and for players to test themselves against category one players.

"It will be a great evening, I’m sure it will be a great game. We will have some of the academy players being mascots as they have done before so it would be great if as many people can come out and support the lads for what could be a great night for them."

On Thursday evening the under-16s are in action in the EFL South West Floodlit Cup final when they take on Exeter City.

The match is taking place on the 3G surface at Winchcombe School and kick-off is at 7pm.

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