City’s Under-21s moved into the third round of the competition after securing a 5-3 win in a tense penalty shoot-out over Barnsley at Oakwell.
The entertaining clash saw the scoreline move back and forth as goals from Liam Lindsay, Jordan Williams and Victor Adeboyejo cancelled out Rabbi Matondo’s strike and Ian Poveda’s brace.
As it went to a shoot-out, Philippe Sandler, Felix Nemcha, Matondo, Poveda and Colin Rosler all converted from the spot for the young Blues, while Tom Scott stepped up to save Mamadou Thiam’s attempt.
After finishing bottom in our group in last year’s campaign, Harsley’s side have triumphed this season, registering a draw over Shrewsbury Town followed by consecutive wins against Crewe Alexandra and Tranmere Rovers.
As his side secured their place in the next round, Harsley was delighted that his players delivered.
“This tournament has been really good for us and it seems to bring out the best in our young boys,” Harsley explained. “They look at it as a different experience – playing at proper grounds, under the floodlights with fans in.
“I’m really pleased as the players did exactly what we asked.
“It was end to end, and the first half looked like it might’ve been too much of a stress for our young lads but they really dug in and stuck at it.
“The save from our ‘keeper was pivotal and allowed us to go down the other end and score.
“Second half it was anyone’s game and I’m really proud of them.
“We get them to play without fear and they’ve done that tonight against some really experienced Championship and League One players.”
While the young Blues have enjoyed the competition so far, the boss believes that pressure is also important to succeed.
“Maybe they need the pressure,” Harsley added. “The League programme we play in is criticised for being a bit sterile at times – it never is for us as we are always the youngest team so it’s always a challenge.
“But that extra bit of pressure helps us to thrive.
“We say to them before the match ‘go out there and show everyone why you play for Manchester City.’ And that’s all we can ask and that’s what they did.”