Our Under-18s begin their new FA Youth Cup campaign at Kingsmeadow this evening (Wednesday) when they host Huddersfield Town – tickets are available at £3 for Adults and £1 for concessions. The game can be watched live on The 5th Stand app
Huddersfield are familiar opponents in this competition and our previous two encounters have seen the Blues score a combined 12 goals to The Terriers’ two. Both of those occasions were held at Aldershot but it's new surroundings for the Under-18s tonight and head coach Ed Brand wants his team to use the home draw to their advantage.
‘It’s pleasing that we’ve got a home draw, we’re excited to play at Kingsmeadow’, he tells the official Chelsea website as the Cup tie approaches. 'It’s a slight change for us as we don’t play many games there and hopefully there will be good support.
'I know there’s a Chelsea fanbase in the area with Women’s team playing their home games there and hopefully that will create a good atmosphere. Being drawn at home gives us an advantage, we are all looking forward to it’.
READ: WE'VE MET BEFORE - FA YOUTH CUP
Brand has been part of winning Chelsea teams in this competition, assisting Jody Morris in the 2017 and 2018 cup triumphs, but he is no stranger to playing in the competition himself, having captained the Blues in both the 2003 and 2004 FA Youth Cup campaigns.
The boss fondly recalls his days representing the Blues and is pleased the club’s success in the Youth Cup has improved since his days wearing the armband in the historic competition.
‘It’s obviously a proud moment when you represent Chelsea, and even more so when you’re captaining the club. Our record in the competition has improved out-of-sight since then and it’s nice to have played a part in that from a coach’s perspective,' he continued.
‘The tradition of the tournament speaks for itself - going back years and years with the team that Manchester United had, it’s always been seen as the pinnacle – you always know that whatever team you’re facing, you’ll be playing their best squad of players.
‘It’s a benchmark and you get to see how good your side is with the crop of players coming through,' Brand explained. 'It’s a competition steeped in history. As a club, we’re really proud of our recent success and that’s the challenge for this set of lads – can they can continue the success and make their own history.’
The need to win will naturally intensify for the Under-18s tonight and Brand is looking for his team to build on their unbeaten start to the Under-18 Premier League’s domestic and cup campaign, stressing that the winning habit among the Academy players is a good trait to have.
‘I’ve spoken a lot about our togetherness as a group over the course of the season and I’m delighted the boys have achieved our objectives so far,' he said. 'I’s taken a real collective effort and we are going to need that type of spirit again in this competition.
‘We’ve got a great group of players here, including the younger lads who have a winning habit regardless of what competition it is. We’ve continued that habit so far this season and it’s a good one to have. It gives us momentum and belief going into what we believe will be a difficult game.’
Bradford City await the winners of tonight’s game after The Bantams inflicted a shock defeat on Stoke City earlier this month, but the Under-18s boss sees no room for complacency in his squad and places focus on the game at hand.
‘It’s cliché but I never look that far ahead,' he added. 'We will use that game [Bradford City v Stoke City] as a perfect example of why complacency can’t set in and I can assure you that it won’t be the case. We will respect Huddersfield fully because we know that they will come prepared, organised and hungry. They will see themselves as the underdog with nothing to lose and that’s a dangerous animal to come up against and we have to make sure we are ready and prepared to nullify anything that they bring.’
How to follow
Tonight's game is a 7pm kick-off and supporters can purchase tickets online now priced at just £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Tickets will also be available on the gate at Kingsmeadow from 5.30pm.
If you aren't able to make Kingsmeadow, the game can be watched live on The 5th Stand app or on this website.