Incredible Rugby Town youngsters take on Cheltenham in FA Youth Cup third round

Manager Liam O'Neill hoping for plenty of home support as Valley host Robins

Rugby Town Youth Team manager Liam O'Neill celebrating after their second-round win over Morecambe   PICTURE BY MARTIN PULLEY
Rugby Town Youth Team manager Liam O'Neill celebrating after their second-round win over Morecambe PICTURE BY MARTIN PULLEY

Rugby Town's incredible FA Youth Cup adventure continues next Wednesday (December 8th) when League One Cheltenham send their youth side to Butlin Road to compete in the Third Round Proper of the competition.

The Cheltenham tie will come three weeks on from Valley's 2-0 home success over another EFL1 outfit Morecambe in the previous round, with goals from Kasey Smith and Mason Platts securing them a fully-deserved win on the night.

Youth Team Manager Liam O'Neill is hoping for another sterling performance from his squad: He said: "It should be another big Butlin Road crowd there on Wednesday to get behind us, so we're all really looking forward to the game and we'll be trying our hardest to cause another upset.

"We will have the lads working hard in training ahead of the game - as we always do, and we will have done our homework on how Cheltenham play, so there's nothing to say we can't do it again."

The draw has special meaning for O'Neill as it sees him up against the club he was on the books for in the 1990s.

He explained: "I spent five years at the Robins as a youth teamer and a young pro, so it's a hugely sentimental occasion for me in that respect.

"In an ideal world and from a totally personal perspective, we would have drawn them in the last round of the competition and then progressed to get one of the big boys in this one, but whatever happens on the night I will be reminding my players beforehand of how immense an achievement this is for them individually and for the club too.

Cheltenham reached the Third Round following their 4-3 extra-time victory over another EFL1 side Portsmouth, where they joined Under-18 teams from the 44 Premier League and Championship clubs - as well just two from outside the top four divisions of the footballing structure in Rugby and National League Bromley.

O'Neill concluded: "It's been an amazing journey so far, starting out at Rushall in the First Qualifying Round nearly three months ago.

"We've had five wins in the competition now - mainly against teams from clubs that are above us in the pyramid, and I cannot praise the attitude and the effort of the lads highly enough, and how they have bought into the way we have asked them to play.

"However from what we've seen, Cheltenham will provide an even tougher test for us than Morecambe did.

"They've got a really good academy manager there, and they can play in a number of different ways and have the potential to cause us trouble.

"However if we can raise our game again as we have before, and with the crowd behind us on our own pitch, it may well be a situation that their players aren't that used to and hopefully we can use that to our advantage."

Wednesday's game will kick-off at 7pm and admission is priced at £4 for adults and £3 for concessions, with free entry for all Under 16's.