Maidenhead United are officially flying the flag for the Royal County in the FA Youth Cup. Following defeat for Reading FC Under 18s at the hands of Crystal Palace last week, the Magpies Allied Counties Youth League side will play their delayed Third Round Proper tie against Oxford United on the 3G surface at Oxford City on Friday 20th December, 7:30pm.
The Academy of the EFL League One League 1 U’s only narrowly defeated Reading City’s heroic youngsters – who themselves had taken notable scalps in the shape of Hemel Hempstead and Wealdstone – in the First Round Proper by a single extra time goal to nil at Scours Lane last month before triumphing with a last gasp goal in a thriller at Colchester in Round 2. Maidenhead by contrast have secured passage with relative ease in eliminating Boreham Wood, Cray Wanderers, Kingstonian and Ware.
The Young Magpies joint manager Christian Parker is justifiably proud that his young charges have equalled a club record run – only set last season – in this prestigious competition: “It is a great achievement from all the players involved in the squad to reach this stage for a second season running and given that it is the furthest the club have ever got it helps put the club on the radar of League clubs, giving our lads the potential opportunity to go on and progress with professional academies.”
Parker has ambitions for his talented players both for their time at York Road and perhaps beyond: “The Youth set up is about developing and progressing players to go and play at the highest standard they can and if that is away from Maidenhead then we will not stand in their way. However, we are also looking to help the management team in recruiting players for the first team. The gap between First Team and Youth Team has closed over the last few years with more of the boys being given the opportunity to play in the First Team. This was shown recently in the Berks & Bucks County FA Senior Cup when no fewer than six were involved; one playing 90 minutes and keeping a clean sheet and three other lads getting a considerable amount of playing time and creating an assist.”
That Binfield County Cup tie at York Road provided a full debut for ‘keeper Fred Chapman – who has also guested for Hellenic League neighbours Holyport this term – as well as appearances from the substitutes bench for Reece Smith – who provided an assist for the Magpies third goal on the night – Brandon Curtis and James Durkin. Tommy Boyd and Taro Chitepo were unused substitutes and the accolades keep coming for the Magpies Academy as both Chitepo and Chapman have been chosen for the English Colleges FA Squad. Meanwhile, MUFC Academy graduate Max Kilman has made a Premier League and Europa League debut for Wolves this season.
Parker was justly proud of how his players did against Senior opposition in the shape of the Moles: “For them to be given the opportunity to play in the First Team shows how far they have come as individuals over the past few seasons and what we are trying to build here within the Youth Development side of the club. It was great to see Fred play 90 minutes and keep a clean sheet and for James, Brandon and Reece to come on and make an impact late in the game. Hopefully this will spur the others on in the group that they can make it into the First Team. Maybe these lads and others will get an opportunity in the next round.”
Parker is focusing for now on the here and now: “We all look forward to Friday’s game against Oxford and would welcome any Magpies supporters coming along to support the boys and help them reach the next stage of the competition for the first time in the club’s history.” Who knows – this talented York Road Class of 2020 might just be capable of re-writing the record books once again.