'I don't know where to start' - U18 boss Atay delighted as Ipswich secure semi-final spot
- Credit: Ross Halls
Adem Atay heaped praise on his young team after Town's U18s progressed into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.
Ipswich beat Sheffield United in a thriller of a contest at Portman Road to book a place against Liverpool in the last four.
"Congratulations to the boys on that, the duration of the night was incredble," said Atay, who watched on as injuries added 30 minutes of added-on time to both halves, as well as extra-time.
"I'm sorry to see the boys who came off injured and obviously I wish them all the best and speedy recover.
"But in terms of the actual occasion, I've just said to them in there, I don't know where to start. They deserve to celebrate, but what an unbelievable game of football.
"First and foremost we have showed our identity as a football club, as the U18s, representing the academy, I'm so proud they were able to showcase that tonight.
"We said in the build-up, it's whoever can handle the emotions on the night, the occasion. Don't play the occasion, stick to the principles we have been teaching them. But on the night have you got the temperament to come out on top when it matters?
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Town took the lead through Nico Valentine, before Sheffield struck twice to take the lead. Elkan Baggott grabbed a last-gasp equaliser five minutes from time, and in extra-time Harvey Cullinan put through his own net to give Town the win.
Coupled with Hassan Ayari being sent off and all the colossal injury-time, and it was quite a night.
"There is enough stoppages in the game to disrupt momentum, but they didn't quit, they kept going," Atay said.
"We had a lot of chances, I think we hit the woodwork two or three times.
"The night can be summed up by the fact we just had the manager, Paul Cook and Gary Roberts in the dressing room celebrating with the boys.
"They are creating memories. We said we didn't want this journey to stop going into this game and it hasn't and now we can look forward to Liverpool, what an opportunity."
Atay admitted his side learned a few different experiences on the night.
"Taking the lead and then having two goals go against you is probably not something we have experienced this season, so another we can tick off the list of experiences and learning," he said. "But now I want them to enjoy it.
"The mentality of the players has been first class. Mentally to have a stoppages like we had for them to get focussed on the game was a testament to their mental character.
"And now we have Liverpool. We want to play teams we don't get a chance to play in league games. It's the games we want and we won't be afraid on the night, we'll be the underdogs.
"It's a Premier League club, the boys can look forward to it now."