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Ray Hall's Academy Blog , 29th November 2010 - 15:34

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We’ve just had a weekend off and we can feel pretty good about our season so far. We are top of the league and it is uncharted territory for us because I don't think we've been in this position before – maybe for a week or so last year, but we're five points clear of the second place team.

I was away when we played Liverpool and equalised at the death – Jake Bidwell did it in the 91st minute with a header, which in effect probably felt like a victory.

And I’m delighted for the boys because it keeps our run going, and it's nice to pick up points away from Finch Farm.  A week ago Saturday we beat the team that was in second place, Bolton, convincingly.

That to me shows a terrific performance not only from the players, but from the work that the staff have put in, because many of the players who were available actually played against Liverpool for the Reserves. So it was a team that we wouldn’t have imagined would have taken to the field at the beginning of the season.

But as one boy moves up and plays for a team (that in status is higher) it gives the opportunity for another boy to come in and those boys have taken the opportunity.

There's no game this weekend, but we're looking forward to our FA Youth Cup game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday. They are on a good run, and they're in our section so we know a bit about them.

But any cup competition is kind of a lottery. You really don't know who will be available for the game - whether they are with the reserves or out on loan even. But it's a great yardstick the FA Youth Cup.

We've not done too well recently, although we got to the last eight last year. Maybe it could be our year for a run but at the end of it the most important thing is to try to develop players who can move from the youth set-up into the next stage, reserves, under 21 and then onto the first team.

I hope as many people can get down to watch as possible. I've been at Everton for 20 years, and when I took over from a man called Ray Minchall, who is sadly no longer with us, I remember him saying to me ‘I hope we never get drawn at home in an FA Youth Cup game’, and I wondered why. It’s only from experiencing it that you know.

It puts added pressure on the players, which they've got to deal with, but that pressure is taken off them when they play away from home.

But in actual fact it's an away game anyway because only a few of the boys have played at the Halton Stadium.

Certainly Wolverhampton Wanderers players won't have played at Halton, unless they've played in the reserve team.

I'm disappointed that it won't be at Goodison Park, because it would have been an opportunity for the boys to experience playing there, but it is always a good game and a good competition to be involved in.

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