Gloucester City Under 18s manager Kenny Blackburn says that he feels quietly optimistic about his side’s chances of progressing the FA Youth Cup tomorrow evening (Thursday 2 November) against Oxford United.
Blackburn’s Young Tigers team have already won four games in the competition thus far, adding to their undefeated season at league level where they have picked up 13 wins and drawn only once.
The revolutionary behind the ever-successful Gloucester City Youth Development setup says that his side can go out and play with no fear when welcoming the Youth Alliance South West League side to Glevum Park.
“We’re all looking forward to the task at hand tomorrow night” said Blackburn. “Personally I’m quietly optimistic and although we know it will be a tough ask, we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“You know you strive to get to this stage of the competition when you first enter at the start of September just to get a chance to pitch yourself against these Football League side’s youth teams.”
Aided by former Gloucester City assistant manager Neil Mustoe as his right-hand man, Blackburn has reached the First Round for the last three years with his young sides.
Blackburn and Mustoe have instilled a winning mentality at youth level since forming a partnership, one that has continued year after year.
“Winning breeds confidence” he said. “We’ve had a bit of success over the last few years and the boys have really earned this occasion.
“We’ve proved this season that we’re a tough side to break down, we trained last night and the lads looked sharp and are all looking forward to it with a positive mindset.”
With Mustoe’s involvement in the youth setup comes with it the professional mentality from a career started at Manchester United amongst the ‘Class of 92’.
Despite a plum home tie on offer in the next round against Bristol Rovers or Forest Green, Blackburn insists that the focus is purely on the next game.
“The boys really don’t need any added incentives to go out and win games, it’s just the way their mentality is” Blackburn said.
“They’re very professional in their mindset and, crucially, they have a great understanding of each other’s game and are very level-headed.”
Blackburn took a moment to encourage the supporters of Gloucester City to come down and get behind the future generation of Tigers stars.
“There are a lot of exciting players in this squad, some that I’m sure will be involved with the senior team in years to come.
“The fans of Gloucester City have proven time and time again that they’re the backbone of this club and past experiences at this stage of the competition shows how much the support helps the lads raise their game.
“We’d love to see a big crowd down at Tuffley tomorrow night to hopefully cheer the boys on into the next round of the cup.”
Kick-off at Tuffley Rovers is at 19:30. Admission prices are £5 Adults, £3 Concessions and free for Under 11s.