U18 Preview: Blackpool vs Saints

By SFC Media Tue 16 Jan Blackpool v Saints
Photo by James Bridle

Southampton's FA Youth Cup journey continues against Blackpool tonight, after securing the Fourth Round tie with a resounding 4-1 win over Wolves at St Mary's in December.

Buoyed by their early cup triumph, as well as a comeback victory against West Ham in the league a week ago, Saints' young charges enter this tie in a confident mood, but Craig Fleming is keen to encourage a calmness in camp when travelling to Bloomfield Road this evening.

While acknowledging that their young side may enter the tie as favourites, the mentality remains as focussed as ever, as coaching duo Fleming and Danny Butterfield explain.

"There is a fair amount of confidence in the squad," Fleming asserted. "Bar the odd blip, all season long the boys have been great.

"Very competitive in games, doing well in most. But they are young boys so we won't be taking anything lightly.

"We've seen enough footage of Blackpool to form opinions; they look well organised and very competitive," Butterfield added. "It will be a tough game, especially travelling up to their patch.

"We're giving them the utmost respect and preparing the boys in the same way as we would any other game. We won't change anything, or get too creative in ways that we wouldn't usually."

Southampton's youngsters celebrate taking the lead against Wolves at St Mary's

League One outfit, Blackpool, compete in a league two tiers below Southampton, but Fleming and Butterfield won't be taking anything for granted, after their opponents overcame Premier League side West Ham in the competition's earlier rounds.

"We've preached to the boys all season long about concentrating on what we do," Fleming emphasised. "We won't stress too much, as long as everyone is doing their jobs.

"We've seen dramatic improvements. The first year scholars have come in to full-time football for the first time and made big strides, as well as the boys who are pushing to earn pro contracts.

"We aren't going to get ahead of ourselves, we've got a really tough away game to get through. But we've talked about being capable of going deep in the competition, and if we can perform at the levels we have been, we give ourselves a good chance."

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