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Tim Ryan pleased with Youth Cup progress

By Dan Simmonite | 30th September 2021

The York City Youth Team have been progressing well in the FA Youth Cup with victories against Yorkshire rivals Farsley Celtic and Bradford (Park Avenue).

An U18s side overcame Bradford at the Horsfall Stadium last night with Jonny Shepherd scoring on 66 minutes followed by heroics from goalkeeper Michael Hogan to save a penalty a minute later to guarantee a 1-0 win for the young Minstermen in the second round qualifying.

Speaking on the progression in the competition, Manager Tim Ryan was pleased with his side’s performances so far.

He said: “The boys have given a really good account for themselves again and they are getting the rewards from the full-time training.

“There was nine first years who came to play against Farsley which is really pleasing for the future.”

In recent years, clubs at City’s level have progressed in the U18s competition towards the ultimate goal of drawing a Football League side who enter in the First Round – notably AFC Fylde playing Chelsea after reaching the Fourth Round last season.

But Tim Ryan doesn’t want to set a Cup target for his men this campaign.

He said: “We don’t want to set targets for winning cups or winning leagues, what we want to do is be really competitive. I believe that if we have a successful side that is in and around and competing every game then it gives each individual player the best chance to progress at York City.

“You never know, the Youth Cup is regionalised up to the first round and over the past two or three years we have bumped into the likes of Chester and Guiseley who are really strong and are on a par with us.

“We will enjoy it as we go. We don’t put a target on things and take each game as it comes. If we can go a bit further – like some of the clubs at our level have done previously – it would be great and some of our lads are thinking them sort of heights.”

Youth teamer Josh Knowles played for the first team in pre-season against Ossett United and made the bench last month against Hebburn Town in the Emirates FA Cup – which was pleasing for his U19s Manager.

Ryan added: “Our focal point is Josh Knowles up front – he has been in and around the first team training and played in pre-season against Ossett.

“His performances, desire and endeavour to really lead the line – on his own at times as well – was really stand out and he is a second year looking to get his first year pro [next season] so it’s a great start to a new season for him and obviously he has to maintain those sort of standards now, along with the rest of the squad, if they do that then we can all be successful together.

“The gaffer has asked for one or two of the first years to go into training and the more you go up from under 16s to under 19s and then first team level the change in speed of the game is massive and what that does is it helps your vision, ball contact and first touch so speeding up player development like that is brilliant.

“Every time players go and train with the first team they come back and really set the standard and it improves our game.”

Steve Watson has offered three youngsters pro contracts this summer – and Ryan is looking to do something similar with promoting players to his U19s side – with three U16 players already utilised on the bench against Farsley in the previous round of the FA Youth Cup.

Ryan explained: “Myself and Dan [Wilson, Head of Youth] do it each year, we carry a squad and this year have a lot of older lads for the league because it’s an under 19s competition. With the FA Youth Cup, we did it last year and the year before, we bedded one or two of the under 16s in just to get into the environment of the changing room and really get a feel for it.

“Some of those lads in the under 16s are doing really well so we are hoping maybe in the next round they can get some game time.”

The young Minstermen will travel to either South Shields or Stockton Town in the next round of the FA Youth Cup which is due to be played the week commencing 11th October 2021.

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