ACROSS the county, there are high hopes that Northumberland FA U18 can go all the way in the national FA County Youth Cup.
The youngsters are to face close rivals Cumberland for a place in the third round, with a home tie against the winners of the Essex and Bedfordshire tie awaiting the victors.
There is a buzz about the current crop of young stars from the county, and, after witnessing them battle to a 4-4 draw in a friendly with Prudhoe Town, I can see why.
The teenagers displayed real character to come from behind on three occasions, not letting their heads drop when going into the interval trailing 3-1.
The Northumberland team showed maturity beyond their tender age, and never let the physicality and constant pressure from a relatively strong Prudhoe side knock their confidence.
Of course, it would be foolish of me to form my opinion on the team after just one game, but the reports have been positive after they beat Lincolnshire 2-0 in the earlier round.
This was also coupled with comfortable victories in the Northern Counties Cup against Sheffield and Hallamshire, and against Shankhouse, who are going strong near the top of the Northern Alliance.
In Prudhoe’s Mark Clark, the Northumberland team have one of the best young goalkeepers around and he has impressed massively in the four or so games I have seen him in (although he didn’t have the greatest against Town!)
It is also pleasing to see two other Tynedale lads getting regular run-outs, with Prudhoe’s David Scott and Haltwhistle’s Greg Irwin featuring.
The latter also caught the eye in the midweek encounter with Prudhoe, scoring the fourth equalising goal with a smart finish to earn Northumberland a respectable draw.
With numbers in the cup whittling down, it would be great for the youngsters, particularly the talented Tynedale trio, to put together a strong run together.
And with the promise they showed at Kimberly Park, their dream could well turn into reality.
Anyone wishing to support the lads on their journey, should note that the game with Cumberland will be played on Saturday, November 12, at 2pm, at Northumbria University’s Coach Lane.
l The picture accompanying this blog is from 2006 when Northumberland and Cumberland went head-to-head, with Northumberland in yellow.
Published: November 3, 2011
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