Ipswich Town looking for much-needed lift in FA Youth Cup tie against Leeds
RUSSELL Osman has called on his Ipswich youngsters to help bring some much-needed joy back to Portman Road.
The Under-18 Academy side will tonight face Leeds United in the third round of the FA Youth Cup – a competition the Blues have won on three occasions. But as well embrace their rich history in the prestigious competition, Osman believes his boys can help the here and now by bringing the first Ipswich victory on home soil for seven weeks.
The Academy manager said: “It has been disappointing for the first team and it is a much happier place when the first team are winning. But on a day-to-day basis, the lads are still in good spirits.
“I will mention tonight that we have not seen many wins down at Portman Road this season so far and if we can start winning some FA Youth Cup games, we can bring the smiles back onto peoples’ faces.”
The former Blues legend, brought back in by manager Paul Jewell last season, has called on his youngsters not to be overawed by a midweek game under the lights at Portman Road.
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He explained: “It will be a great opportunity for the lads to play in the FA Youth Cup and at Portman Road with hopefully a big crowd. The lads are buzzing, but we have to make sure they don’t get too distracted by it. We have watched Leeds and we have done as much homework on them as we feel we need to. They are a strong side, committed and a side we will need to respect. We will have to perform well to beat them.”
The competition itself has good memories for Osman after he helped the club win the 1975 competition, when more than 16,000 packed into Portman Road for the second leg of the final against West Ham.
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He reflected: “It is a very prestigious competition and one in which Ipswich Town has done very well in the history of the football club. In 1975, we had some good players and the whole feel of the youth team and the club around it was the competition was important and it was a special occasion.
“We have got pride in our previous performances in the FA Youth Cup. It was a privilege to play for Ipswich Town and you were reminded how good the history was of playing in the FA Youth Cup. The youth set-up at Ipswich has stood the club in good stead and that must carry on.”
– Ipswich Town have won the FA Youth Cup on three occasions
– In 1973, they claimed the prestigious trophy for the first time by virtue of a 4-1 aggregate win over Bristol City
– And just two years later, they went one better when West Ham were put to the sword 5-1 over two legs. The home second leg in 1975 was witnessed by more than 16,000
– The club then had to wait until 2005 for further FA Youth Cup glory when the Blues beat Southampton 3-2 on aggregate. Ed Upson was the hero with the only goal of the second leg at Portman Road, scoring the winner in extra-time