“Proud of the way we kept going”
....little peeved that we have gone out to a team that is really nothing to with Biggleswade Town FC apart from the fact they use their Carlsberg Stadium to play at!
Basically, the team is Lee Allinson`s LAFA Academy who play as Biggleswade Town in the Eastern Junior Alliance League.
I am not writing this as sour grapes because we`ve lost, but simply ask the question to the Football Association “is it right?”.
Is it right that a team who have to pay considerable amounts of money to play for an academy who have the pick of a vast area and whose players travel from as far as North London to play for them.
Sure, they`ve had their successes – 19-year-old Keinan Davis was signed by Aston Villa two years ago and is now in their first-team squad and they have more recently seen two boys signed by Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But I`m just posing the question whether it`s right they should be allowed into a prestigious competition like the FA Youth Cup.
The FA will say they have entered, paid and been accepted into the competition as Biggleswade Town FC and that`s all that counts!
To pay them a little respect, I abandoned my normal 3-5-2 formation for a more conservative 4-5-1 and I was also conscious they had watched us at Potton United the week before.
We started reasonably well and looked fairly comfortable without making many opportunities ourselves.
It became something of a midfield stalemate, although they seemed intent on peppering balls to their right winger, giving left-back Callum Harley plenty to keep him occupied.
But we dealt with most they could throw at us and Sam Curtis looked assured in goal and handled everything well.
We had a couple of chances to get the ball into dangerous areas but our final ball was disappointing.
Then, with 2 minutes of the first half remaining – and having looked comfortable – we shot ourselves in the foot!
A pass across field was left to each other by Jordan-Lee Holmes and Jaydon Taylor, and a Biggleswade nipped in to nick the ball and take it into the box before squaring coolly for another attacker to slip the ball past Curtis.
If that wasn`t bad enough, almost straight from the restart, they doubled their lead when a cross came in and we allowed an attacker to get the wrong side of us and he headed past a helpless Curtis.
So, 2-0 at half-time and it was harsh on us, although we can`t blame anyone but ourselves as we gifted them both goals.
We changed back to 3-5-2 and the second half saw us at least create one or two opportunities – indeed we should have pulled one back when a great ball through from skipper Ben Fitzjohn, who was well shackled all night by the home side, saw Harvey Bland nip in and, although his effort was half-saved by the Biggleswade keeper, no-one was on hand to pounce on a loose ball in front of an empty net.
Jaydon Taylor had to come off with a tight hamstring and it saw the return of Alex McGeehin, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury in the pre-season friendly against San Antonio Lions.
He has had a couple of Sunday run-outs, but this is a whole different level, and he will benefit from the time spent on the pitch against good players.
We tried hard in the second half and never gave in – and as manager and coaches, you can`t ask for anything more.
We won`t play a better team than these all season - and I doubt if it would be any tougher should we draw either Northampton Town or Peterborough United in the County Cup.
They had obviously done their homework on us and shackled Ben Fitzjohn, James Lea, James Bishop and Frankie Hayes and stopped us playing our normal game.
But there were positives – McGeehin`s return will add competition at the back and Sam Curtis, who by his own admission hasn`t been at his best in the last couple of matches, was excellent on the night. Maybe he benefitted from having young Louis Gardner-Frost on the bench for the first time as competition!
He`s a promising young keeper who came in for the experience and to see how we do things and also act as cover should anything have happened to Sam .
Yes, it was disappointing to bow out, but although I am one of the world`s worst losers, I wasn`t that upset with the result because I know we played a very good side.
So it`s the title, County Cup, Knockout Cup and Jaymann Shield to go for now!
Updated 12:25 - 6 Oct 2017 by Steve Whitney
Sam Curtis; Jaydon Taylor (sub: Alex McGeehin), Jordan-Lee Holmes, Dante Memoli, Callum Harley (sub: Callum Herring); Dan Owen (sub: Harvey Lewis), James Bishop, Ben Fitzjohn, James Lea, Harvey Bland. Sub keeper Louis Gardner-Frost.