'It's up to them to kick on now' - Atay's challenge to U18s after cup win

Ipswich Town's U18s celebrate winning the Professional Development League Cup with a 7-0 win over Coventry City.

Ipswich Town's U18s celebrate winning the Professional Development League Cup with a 7-0 win over Coventry City. - Credit: ITFC

Ipswich Town Under-18s manager Adem Atay has challenged his players to 'go and make a mark in the first team' following their impressive 7-0 demolition of Coventry City in the Professional Development League Cup Final at Portman Road last night.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 13th minute when Abel Alabi was dismissed for denying a goalscoring opportunity and Tawanda Chirewa casually converted with a Panenka penalty.

Nico Valentine, Jack Manly, Gerard Buabo, Chirewa and Albie Armin then all added further goals as the Blues ruthlessly took advantage of their extra man.

“They fully deserve it,” said Atay. “They got to the semi-final of the Youth Cup last year and had to play behind closed doors and they did so well last year without having facilities to use because of Covid.

“I feel this is just one big reward for them. They’re a good group of boys and they deserve to enjoy this occasion.”

A crowd of 559 watched the game at Portman Road, with first team boss Kieran McKenna among those watching on.

“Ultimately it’s about getting players into the first team, that’s our job here, and to make the first team better," said Atay.

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“It’s up to them now to kick on with this experience and try and progress through the age groups and make a mark in the first team if they can.

“In terms of a season, it’s been enjoyable, this is a nice reward for them. The league took a little bit of a hit but with one game to go they’re potentially finishing third. I just think this is something that they’ve fully deserved off the back of their last year’s experiences as well. They should go and enjoy this because it doesn’t happen often.”

Midfielder Cameron Humphreys, who along with Chirewa was on the first team bench at Crewe last weekend, said: "It’s been a good season for us. The U23s have been pushing for the play-offs, the U18s were close to the play-offs.

“This cup run’s been brilliant, everyone’s played a part in it. We'e got all the injured boys here and we’re all celebrating together."

On the game, the 18-year-old said: "I think we reacted really well to their red card. Sometimes it can go one of two ways, we could take it easy and just pass for passing’s sake and do that, or we can do what we did and be professional and be ruthless and keep going and keep doing the right things.

“And that was led by us as players as well as the coaching staff, just to make sure we kept going and we didn’t give them a chance, don’t let them back into it. We don’t slow the game down, we stick to our principles and what we want to do.”

“You’ve got to keep pressing, we’ve got to keep going. If it was 11-v-11 playing our style we want to get after them, we want to press, we want to win the ball high up the pitch.

“That doesn’t change when they go down to 10 men, it might make it easier for us but mentally it’s the same game. We’ve got to get on top of teams, press teams and when we get control take the chances like we did today.”

He added: "I’ve had two years with Adem and we got to the semi-final of the Youth Cup (last season) and we’ve finally won something.

“Training every day with the U18s and U23s, it’s good, the lads are loving it and it’s shown on the pitch with some good team performances and some good results.”