Man City U18s defender Ed Francis was delighted to see Matt Smith’s late strike at Aston Villa see his team through but he’s refusing to allow his teammates to stop there.
The centre-back played more of a supporting role as City dominated Wednesday night’s FA Youth Cup quarter-final at Villa Park and reacted just like a fan when his roommate fired the winner with just three minutes left on the clock.
Lee Carsley’s youngsters are now in the semi-finals of the tournament while they await confirmation of their fixtures in the U18 Premier League final stage and Francis wants his teammates to keep their unbeaten run since the start of the season going.
He said: “We’ve got to strive to win everything, all three trophies, and if we keep doing what we’re doing then there’s no reason we can’t.
“We’re in the semi-finals and we’ll go into that feeling confident. If we can get through that we’ll be playing someone like Chelsea or Tottenham and even though we haven’t played them yet, we know how much of a test they will be."
City initially fell behind at Villa Park but a quick response by Jadon Sancho was followed by long periods of Blues pressure on the hosts’ goal. Efforts from Brahim Diaz, Phil Foden and Francis himself were all denied and it seemed likely that City would be forced into extra time.
However, when Smith collected the ball on the edge of the box, a moment of composure and quality created a gap just big enough for the Welsh youth international to fire home - much to the delight of Francis.
He said: “I think that’s the edge that City have. It was late on in the game and we’d had a few snapshots which didn’t come off but to keep your cool in that situation, with just a few minutes to go, shows his quality and it was what saw us through.
“It was a great moment. I’ve roomed with him for most of the season so I was even happier to see him score.
“It was special for him because he had such a big following in the crowd and all of his family were here. It’s a goal we all dream about scoring. It was a great result and that moment is one we’ll remember for a while as we look to go further in this competition.”
17-year-old Francis had little defending to do throughout the evening at Villa but he still played a vital role in building attacks from the back.
“It’s tough for the whole team when we play against defensive blocks like that but it’s something we’re having to learn to do if we want to keep winning matches. I enjoy having a lot of the ball and trying to be as creative as possible and express myself,” said Francis.
“For us defenders, it’s about being patient and not forcing the pass or getting anxious. Our role was to create attacks by getting the ball to the attackers in the best positions but it is hard when you have to get through so many players.”