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Sheron: It's vital that we handle the pressure

The Under-18s chief says his side will need to step up ahead of their toughest FA Youth Cup test yet

4 March 2020

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Mike Sheron says Ewood Park feels like home for his youngsters, but admits the team must be able to handle yet another pressure situation when Arsenal head to East Lancashire on Friday night in the FA Youth Cup.

Having defeated Newport County, Charlton Athletic and Preston North End all on home turf, Sheron's side are now into the quarter-finals of the prestigious competition.

Arsenal secured their place in quarter-finals thanks to a thrilling 4-3 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, having knocked out Southampton (1-0) and Cheltenham Town (on penalties) earlier in the competition.

The winners of the tie will host either Manchester City of Burnley in the semi-finals, but Sheron says the focus must only be on Arsenal and continuing their fine run at Ewood.

“It’s going to be a really great tie, one that I’m looking forward to and one that I know the lads are all looking forward to," he revealed to iFollow Rovers.

“We’re really delighted by the fact that we played particularly well against Preston in the last round, scoring four goals.

“The lads beat Charlton, and the fact that we won, we felt that they felt it was a case of job done.

“It was to a certain extent, but we wanted more structure, more quality, and I felt we did that against Preston, so I’m delighted with the outcome of getting through.

“We keep challenging the lads to keep getting better and improving, and I feel we’re doing that. We’re very lucky to have a great stadium in Ewood Park and we’ve played a lot of games there already.

“We want to keep playing there, especially considering the lads are feeling a lot more comfortable in those surroundings. This challenge will be a lot more difficult for us because it’s Arsenal, who have some talented, quick players.

“It’s a game we’re really looking forward to."

Mixing with some of the elite clubs at this stage of the competition offers a positive for Mike, but he hopes the Youth Cup dream can continue for a while yet.

“You want to go as far as you can in this competition," he added.

"More often than not it’s the big sides that get to the last four of the FA Youth Cup.

“But it’s a great opportunity for us and that belief and desire is growing. Hopefully they can show what they’ve got and perform in a pressure situation again.

“We always try to put the lads in pressure situations, and playing in the FA Youth Cup is a pressure situation. Playing in front of their family, friends and staff at the football club, you’re constantly trying to impress.

“We’ve had some low points, but they keep knocking at the door. Those opportunities will keep arising if you continue to do the right things consistently well."

Kick-off is at 7pm on Friday 6th March. Admission is priced at £4 for adults and £2 for concessions. Season tickets are not valid for this match.

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