City u18s coach Jason Wilcox is expecting a close encounter when his side meet Everton at Goodison Park in the u18 Premier League play-off final on Saturday evening, but is hoping his team will be bolstered by a strong away following.
The young Blues overturned a first half deficit against West Ham to book their place in the final – goals from captain Ashley Smith-Brown and substitute Kean Bryan just reward for a dominant performance, and the margin might have been wider but for some stubborn defending from the East Londoners.
City have now won six games on the bounce and are unbeaten since the beginning of March, and will be looking to carry that momentum into Saturday’s clash as they look to finish the season as National Champions.
Everton hold home advantage for the final, but Wilcox is hoping to see as many City shirts as possible among the crowd at Goodison Park for what he expects will be a thrilling encounter.
He told mcfc.co.uk: “It’s going to be an exciting game, I’m looking forward to it and the lads are looking forward to it. Some of the younger academy players are coming to watch which will be good for them, but good for our lads too to get a bit of support, especially going away from home.
“It would be fantastic if we could have a good following going across to Goodison. The reception we got on the pitch before the first team game against Villa was sensational. It was something that should have ignited and motivated the players.
“The City fans really take pride in the younger players and always have, and I think if we can get a good following it would be really good for the boys, and I am sure we will get some good support.”
City have lit up the Northern League this term, playing an attractive brand of football that has yielded 89 league goals, and have treated supporters to some scintillating displays over the season.
Wilcox added: “We want to win playing our way. We want to play stylish, attacking football that people will pay to watch and one thing I would say about this group is I would pay to watch them.
“That’s a credit to them, they play football of the highest order at times, and we now need to get consistency which comes through playing and maturity.”
The final is set to be an all-northern affair, after Everton saw off Tottenham by a single goal to book their place in the u18 showpiece. The two sides have already faced off twice so far this term, and with the home side taking the points on each occasion Wilcox is expecting a close affair.
The former England international said: “We know what we can expect from Everton, and they are always competitive. They have seen us play, they know we want to dominate possession and they will want to as well.
“I think it is two even teams and it will come down to who performs better on the day.
“But the boys have a great team spirit, they look after each other and they have worked hard to get to where they are and they don’t want to miss out now. They want to win and if they perform the way they can do, I have every confidence.”
Kick off is at 5.30pm on Saturday 17 May at Goodison Park (L4 4EL). Tickets are priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. We’ll have live updates on twitter as well as a full match report after full time.