A look ahead to tomorrow's 3rd round clash with Accrington StanleyAcademy manager Andy Jones has hailed the progress of Town’s U-18s, as they prepare for their FA Youth Cup third round tie with Accrington Stanley on 6th December.
A 5-1 victory over Wolverhampton Casuals and a dramatic win away at Rochdale means that Town will enter the third round, with the possibility of a tricky tie with a Premier League or Championship club avoided for now.
Town will instead face a tough test from the League Two side, but Jones is confident that Town can repeat their impressive displays from earlier in the competition.
“It’s a great achievement. We played up at Rochdale and it was probably one of our best performances of the season, especially in the first half.
“We were set up very well, with a high press and created a lot of good opportunities in the first half against a good Rochdale side.”
Jones is under no illusions that the tie will provide a tough test for Town, with the away side having some players looking like they could break through very shortly.
“We’ve just got to try and emulate that performance, I know they come with a little bit of pedigree, I think they’ve got a few lads that are in and around their first team set up.
“We’ve got a good set of lads, we’ve got a good side, good coaching staff and we’re confident so we’ll see how we get on.”
The results in the cup have come as a contrast to the league form for the youngsters, as they currently sit in 10th place having won only two of their 10 games so far this season.
Despite this, Jones is sure that performances are positive, and that a change of luck could see the squad climb the table.
“On paper the results haven’t been great but I think if you spoke to the lads and the coaching staff then I think they’d say that the performances have been.
Jones continued: “It’s just been a bit unlucky all season, mainly with scoring goals, we’ve created a lot of chances.
“We’ve defensively been okay as well but I think it’s been more of a case of playing well but not really getting the results.”
The U-18s have been setting up with the same 3-5-2 formation that former manager Micky Mellon had been using with the first team.
The arrival of a new manager could change that according to Jones, and he believes it could take a little bit of time for Paul Hurst to integrate his ideas into the academy set up.
“Typically with the U-18s we use a 3-5-2, with the academy we tend to try different formations in the times that suit.
“Obviously there is going to be a little bit of a change going forward with the gaffer coming in, it’s just a case of finding out where we want to go, but that will come into fruition in the next few months.”
Hurst has been readily involved with the system already despite only being at the club for a short period of time – he attended the last Youth Cup fixture - something that the academy manager is delighted with.
“It’s fantastic, it’s great to have Paul down there. He came to the Youth Cup game, which is a boost to the staff and the players knowing he’s there.
“He’s been involved ever since he started with us, which is great for us to have the first team gaffer overseeing it.”