Match Preview – FA Youth Cup on Thursday 11th September

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18’s travel to face AFC Dunstable in the Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup on Thursday evening (11th September) with kick off at 7:45. 

This will be the first competitive match for the new-look youth team since linking up with the Malcolm Arnold Academy – see here for detail of the scholarship scheme, as well as information on the full AFC R&D Academy.

The match is also the first time new coach Darren Purse has managed a team of his own. The former Cardiff City and Birmingham City defender said: “I’m really excited about it. The preparations have been long and hard and hopefully the lads can go out and produce a performance for us.”

Purse, who is also player-coach for Southern League side Chesham United, has prioritised the FA Youth Cup over the league. “It’s a big thing to play in the FA Youth Cup as a kid. You have half a dozen lads that didn’t quite make it at league clubs, so this is their opportunity to prove to the people that said they weren’t good enough, by having a really good run in the FA Youth Cup. We’ve got 18 games in the college league with games on Wednesday afternoons. Of course it will be nice if they can go on a good run in the league too.” He continued: “It’s going to be a great game for the boys to be involved in and I’ve set them a little target of how far they can go in the competition and see if we can get to play some league clubs in the following rounds. They’re good enough and they’re a good bunch of lads with a great attitude on them so hopefully they’ll do well this year. The group of lads I’ve got, are only 16/17 years old, but they’re hoping to be the future of the football club and maybe go on to bigger and better things too, so it’s going to be an exciting couple of years.”

The scholars defeated Bedford Town 3-0 in a pre-season friendly (see match details / photos here). “We beat Bedford Town 3-0 and the lads did really well. They’re a great group of lads, a lot better than I thought they were going to be so it’s going to be an exciting feeling for them.” Purse said.

Darren also attended the first team’s 5-1 thrashing of Oxhey Jets in The FA Cup; “The first team have had an excellent start this season and hopefully it will give some of the young lads I’m coaching some inspiration.”

Details of the full draw are here.

Details of the Diamonds U18 / MAA Academy fixtures are here.

AFC Dunstable U18 play at Creasey Park Community Football Centre, Creasey Park Drive, Dunstable LU6 1BB, which some Diamonds fans will remember from their FA Vase visit last season. For directions for the trip of around 35-miles from the Dog and Duck see here. The ground is towards the north end of Dunstable, close to the A5.

More of the interview with Darren Purse will be published in due course.