"Full first-team experience" for Fylde Under-18s at Chelsea in FA Youth Cup
AFC Fylde’s Under-18s are enjoying the “full first-team experience” as they prepare for Friday’s glamorous FA Youth Cup tie away to Chelsea.
With the senior side’s season halted prematurely for a second successive year, the club’s academy is flying the flag for Mill Farm as they enjoy their best-ever run in the competition.
Wins over Morecambe, Sunderland and Cambridge United have earned the young Coasters a fourth-round tie which team boss Conrad Prendergast says is the biggest game some of these players will ever feature in.
And he told The Gazette that the club are pulling out all the stops to make this extra-special occasion an unforgettable one for all concerned.
“It isn’t just about the game, we’re giving the players the whole experience that an EFL club would have travelling for a game in London,” he explained.
“After training on Thursday morning, we travel down and have a team meal in the evening. The club is determined to give the players the full first-team experience.
“We are all disappointed that the first-team have not been able to complete their season but we’ve had lots of positive messages from them and all the senior players are behind us.
“The manager (Jim Bentley) is coming down and the club has been fully supportive, but we realise there is even more focus on us now.”
The only disappointment is that the match is not taking place at Stamford Bridge. Instead the venue for the 12.30 kick-off will be Kingsmeadow, base for the Chelsea women and under-23s, and until recently home of AFC Wimbledon.
Prendergast added: “The players were more than a little disappointed because we’d talked about Stamford Bridge in the build-up to the last round and used that as extra motivation.
“We’d hoped that with it being an international break we could play at the Premier League ground but we’re still playing on grass.
“The lads have achieved an enormous amount to get there and they deserve every credit.”
Friday's winners will be at home in the last 16 to Manchester City or Everton, who play on Saturday. Fifth round ties must be completed by April 17.
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