EDS & Academy

Wilkinson urges City to 'embrace and enjoy' Oxford FA Youth Cup challenge

Head coach Ben Wilkinson has urged his City youngsters to embrace and enjoy the moment when we entertain Oxford in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night.

City play host to the Us in the last eight with the action at the Academy Stadium getting underway at 19:00pm (UK time).

Wilkinson’s young charges are in a rich vein of form, having opened up a seven point lead at the top of the Under 18 Premier League North as well as recording impressive FA Youth Cup victories against Blackburn, Brighton and Fleetwood in reaching the last eight.

But though the business end of the season is now upon us, for the head coach, he says its equally important his players stay relaxed and look to savour the moment given the prestige and special allure of the FA Youth Cup.

“Certainly, for the boys I always see the FA Youth Cup as the culmination of their Academy journey,” Wilkinson pointed out.

“So, it’s really important they enjoy it.

“They have been together for a long time a lot of these boys. Some will have joined when they were 6 or 7 and they will have been in the Academy Stadium watching as far back as when we had all those City v Chelsea finals and that kind of helped inspire them.

“So, to get their moment and a crack at it, it’s a really special competition from that point. You have your own short window to try and create your own bit of history for yourself and your group.

“It’s a great competition and its really important they embrace it, enjoy it and try and use it as a vehicle to show everyone how good they are and what they are capable of.”

The City youngsters have the advantage of a fourth consecutive home draw and will go into Tuesday’s last eight tie full of confidence.

But Wilkinson says he and his players are expecting a stern test from an Oxford side who have hugely impressed on their run to the quarter-finals, not least for the manner of their impressive 3-0 fifth round win over Leeds.

“I guess it’s a little bit similar to our last round in that Fleetwood had beaten Middlesbrough convincingly before meeting us. Having watched Oxford I can see why they have done so well in the competition, and they deservedly beat Leeds,” Wilkinson pointed out.


“I think they have a physicality about them, and they have some really good players, so they make it tough and competitive.

“They have a goal scorer (Gatlin O’Donkor) who is undoubtedly a threat and who has played 20 odd games for their first team, so we are certainly not underestimating them.

"They have had a great run and deservedly beat Leeds, so we just need to try and concentrate on ourselves, prepare right and execute the game plan, as we did against Fleetwood, to the best of our ability.

“And if we do that then I’m confident we can look to try to progress.”

There is no lack of incentive for the winners of Tuesday’s tie, not least the exciting prospect of a semi-final trip to tackle Arsenal.

But rather than being diverted by such thoughts, Wilkinson says his and his players’ focus is solely trained on the immediate task in hand.

“There is no point in even thinking about the prospect of potentially playing Arsenal until we play Tuesday,” the head coach asserted.

“Oxford have done fantastically well to get here and they have had really convincing performances in their last two wins against Leeds and Cardiff.

“So, it’s going to be a really tough game and we need to make sure we prepare right and are fully concentrated on this game before we think about anything else.”

Tickets are available for the game HERE and cost £3 for adults, £1 concessions and for Under 16s while season ticket holders of both clubs will be admitted free of charge.