DONCASTER Rovers Under-18s will take centre-stage at the Keepmoat Stadium tonight in their FA Youth Cup first round tie against Morecambe (7pm).
Tonight’s game is the first time that the young Rovers have featured at the first round stage of the competition for four years .
Head of Youth Paul Wilson is keen to see them reach the third round hurdle at least in the hope of drawing a big-name club as was the case last season when, as a result of Dean Saunders’ side being in the Championship, they entered the competition at the third round and were drawn away to a star-studded Chelsea side.
“It would be nice to get through tonight’s game and go on a bit of a run but as with any knock-out cup competition a lot depends on the draw,” said Wilson.
“We gave a Chelsea side that had cost millions, and which featured players who are set to become household names in the future, a really good game and we only lost 2-1 in last season’s third round down there.
“I’m sure the experience of playing against such quality players has helped stand the likes of Jordan Ball and Liam Wakefield in good stead as they look to make the transition from youth team football to first-team football.”
With over half-a-dozen of last season’s side, which finished runners-up to Hull City in the North-East Alliance League as well as lifting the national Alliance Cup for the first time, signing senior professional contracts, the class of 2012-13 has a tough act to follow.
But though they have one of the youngest sides in the North-East Alliance, Rovers have made a flying start to the season.
Wilson admits, however, that tonight’s game will be no foregone conclusion.
“I watched Morecambe earlier in the season and they try and play,” he said.
“On the day I watched them they were a bit physical and if that’s the case tonight we’ll have to see how the referee deals with it.”
Wilson says that nerves could play an important part in deciding tonight’s tie.
“I just hope that the lads go out and give it a really good go and do themselves justice,” he said.
“For most of the players tonight will be the first time that they have played at the stadium and they’ll be as excited as anything.
“It would be nice to see a good crowd tonight and for them to get behind the lads.
“We get a few down on a Saturday morning when we play at Cantley Park but tonight will be a good opportunity for people to see the players who are coming through and who could be Rovers players of the future.”
Last season’s youth team keeper Jon Maxted, who has been on the Rovers bench, has joined Gainsborough on a month’s loan.