Manchester City Under-18s boss Gareth Taylor hailed the maturity and attitude shown by his players in Wednesday night’s impressive 4-0 FA Youth Cup third round win at Clevedon Town.
It was a testing assignment for the Blues as they had to cope with a fired-up opposition, grim weather conditions, slippery pitch and a 2,000 plus crowd packed into the Everyone Active Stadium eager to see an upset.
To their credit, the City players went about their task with relish, taking an early 2-0 lead and never relinquishing control of the tie with Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Tommy Doyle, Ben Knight and Henri Ogunby all on the scoresheet.
And the manager said he couldn’t have asked for any more of his young charges.
“We showed good discipline and good energy on a difficult pitch in difficult conditions against a team that were really up for it,” said Taylor.
“There was a big crowd, it was pouring with rain… and this really mattered, and I thought the lads dealt with it with professionalism and discipline.
“We had a brief shaky period at the start of the second half but there was great determination even for the basics like winning headers… I thought they were excellent at it.
“For some of them they will not have had an experience like this before. Even playing on a difficult pitch – this was like the pitches I used to play on.
“It may sound daft, but these players don’t really see mud – so it was a proper humdinger of a cup tie.
“I thought our two centre-backs were excellent with how they dealt with their aerial threats.
“Joe Hodge was top class - for a 16-year -old to show that maturity was amazing. Lewis Fiorini and Ben Knight were really good too, so there were a lot of positives from the night.”
City’s reward for our victory in the South West is a fourth-round tie at home to Nottingham Forest next month.
Before then, the young Blues will take a break over the festive period with Taylor left to reflect on a hugely satisfying week for the City Academy in general.
“We’ve earned the right to play Forest. Now we will have a short break over Christmas and we’ll see where we are squad wise," Taylor added.
“The biggest thing for me was the squad as up to probably three days ago Felix Nmecha and Eric Garcia were both due to play.
“Then Eric was selected to play for the first team in our Carabao Cup game at Leicester and Felix was on the bench and that is an amazing story.
“That is what it’s all about – and the incentive it gives everyone, so it has been a really good couple of days all round.”