*POSTPONED* FA County Youth Semi-Final Fixture
Gloucestershire FA under-18 young guns get set for semi-final norfolk showdown
GLOUCESTERSHIRE FA Under-18
co-boss Calum Wands says he and his team “can’t wait” to lock horns with their
Norfolk FA counterparts for this Saturday’s FA County Youth Cup semi-final
showdown in Norwich (11.30am), writes Simon Parkinson.
Having been handed a first-round bye, the valiant visitors dispensed of Amateur Football Alliance (2-0), Cornwall FA (5-3 aet) and Durham (5-1) en route to the last four to put them on the cusp of a first final place in the prestigious national competition in 22 years.
Table-toppers Gloucestershire had been hopeful of entering this weekend’s big tie having given their chances of clinching the South & West Counties Championships a significant boost.
Away victory over closest rivals Oxfordshire at the weekend would have put their hosts out of the picture. Instead a frozen pitch put paid to prospects of that important fixture going ahead, meaning Gloucestershire’s title hopes have been put on ice until a new date is set.
Wands, who runs the representative team in tandem with Adam Coyle, explained: “The game was due to be played at 2pm on Sunday but was called off on Saturday evening with concerns that it would present a danger to players.
“It was disappointing but in other ways it could prove beneficial as we’ve been carrying a couple of injuries and it gives those lads a fighting chance of making the bus for this Saturday. The postponement also meant we didn’t run the risk of picking up any further knocks.
“For Adam and me this FA County Youth Cup competition is priority, something we identified at the start of the season as being one we wanted to do well in.
“This is our first year of running the under-18s having overseen the under-16s the two previous years and it’s great that five or six players from that are still with us now helping drive us towards success.
“Gloucestershire have reached the final a few times since the competition began (in 1944), the last time being in 1996 when we lost 1-0 to Durham. But we’ve never actually won it.
“Not that that has any bearing on this weekend as we’re not even beginning to think about a final yet with a tough semi-final game ahead of us.”
Wands accepted: “We don’t know too much about Norfolk, naturally, but from feedback we had after their 2-1 quarter-final win (after extra time) over Isle of Man they are a strong and physical unit who scored both their goals from set-pieces and headers, something to be mindful of but not overly troubled by.
“Perhaps it’s for the best we don’t know every detail about them as it means we can approach it relaxed and ready to play our normal game rather than chopping and changing personnel and systems to handle their threat.
“Needless to say we’re all buzzing for it. We couldn’t wait to see who we’d get in the semi-finals and now we know we can’t wait to go.”