Manchester City U18s defender Ed Francis has praised the mentality of his teammates after they came from behind to claim a draw in the FA Youth Cup final first leg.
Chelsea’s Ike Ugbo opened the scoring for the visitors at the Academy Stadium on Tuesday night but Phil Foden’s drilled shot across goal levelled the scores with 30 minutes left to play.
He said: “It was a disappointing time to concede but I was just trying to motivate the lads to make they sure they believed we could get back in this game. We had a few discussions at half-time and then Lee came in and told us he knew we could turn it around in the second half.
“They’ve got a lot of physical players and we knew it was going to be a high tempo game going end-to-end with lots of chances. A few of the lads pulled up with cramp at the end but I think we’ve showed we were the fitter of the two sides and that helped us push on.”
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Not only did City’s youngsters have to compete with the defending champions, they also had to come to terms with playing in front of a bumper Academy Stadium crowd with many more watching at home.
“It was a new experience for a lot of the lads to play in front of such a big crowd and a loud drum. We got used to it during the game and we definitely played better and felt more comfortable in the second half than we did in the first half,” said Francis.
As Francis points out, City improved steadily in the second half and were rewarded when Foden struck the equaliser just passed the hour mark. It was a goal that will live long in the memory of the young midfielder and Francis believes it could have a major impact on the destination of the trophy.
He said: “It was a great goal. He got the ball in midfield and carried on running. It was a great finish from the lad and we know he can do that. It gave us a real boost and we had more chances in the closing stages but unfortunately we couldn’t get the second goal.”
The second leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-final will be played at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 26 April. Head to the ticket office to support our future.
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