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Jim rues defensive lapses in City's Youth Cup exit

Academy vs Arsenal FA Youth Cup 0809

Academy vs Arsenal FA Youth Cup 0809

Academy manager Jim Cassell refused to single out individuals for criticism after defensive lapses allowed Arsenal to race away from City's Under 18s in Wednesday night's Youth Cup semi final second leg.

The young Gunners were already 2-1 up after the first part of the tie, and Sanchez Watt's goal after just 40 seconds was the first of four within the opening half hour that stunned their counterparts from the City Academy.

Ahmad Benali gave hope with a sweet finish just before half time, but despite a marked improvement from City after half time there was no way back and their reign as holders of the prestigious trophy was at an end.

Given Arsenal's rapid start from out of the blocks, does Jim think that City were caught cold?

"It's difficult to say," he responds. "You would have to be critical of individual players and I don't think that's fair because they have done very well this season.

"Arsenal were magnificent for 30 minutes and we could not have been poorer. Whether that is down to Arsenal or our own lack of discipline, that's for everyone else to judge. We have not had a spell where we have played that badly for a long time, and we got punished.

"Three of the four goals were down to mistakes, and we have had a good amount of chances we did not put away. The scoreline after 30 minutes was embarrassing, but then we got on top and it was unkind in the end. But we never moan, give credit to Arsenal because it was their night.

"What we can take heart from is that at four-nil down after half an hour, away from home, it could have been a very difficult last hour. But, we regrouped well and the boys applied themselves. We could have had three or four goals before the break, and in the second half we had some good chances. However goals win matches, and theirs went in through really poor mistakes from our team, and we suffered."

City's second-half performance earned a generous round of applause from both Arsenal's and City's fans near the tunnel as the team left the pitch at the final whistle, and the two sides are set to face each other again soon in the Premier Academy League play-off. It's a chance that Jim says the team and the coaching staff will be relishing.

"You have to be humble when winning as well as losing - last year we won the trophy with some dignity and I hope we did the same in defeat at Arsenal," he continues. "We'll regroup, rebuild and take a look at what happened. We have been to the semi-finals, at least, three times in four years, and we have the opportunity to play Arsenal again in the league play-offs. Maybe that will be time for revenge or not, but we will be ready for it and we will have a go."

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Young Blues out of Dallas Cup on penalties

Academy Platt Lane 2008

City's youth team have been knocked out of the Dallas Cup on penalties after drawing their semi-final with Sao Paulo 0-0, but Academy Manager Jim Cassell is proud of the mark the lads have left on the tournament.