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Neil Dewsnip, 15th January 2009 - 15:47
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So we've progressed through another round of the FA Youth Cup.
I was very pleased with the performance against Burnley - a team who were every bit as tough as I had expected.
We got better as the evening went on but even though we were three up, I was disappointed to see us concede with 10 minutes to go. But the lads have done really well and we're delighted to be through to the fifth round.
We hadn't played in over a month and, to be fair, neither had they. I thought that showed in a forgettable first half, but we were happy to be level at the break. It gave us a chance to ask the lads to step it up and take the game to Burnley, which is exactly what they did.
We got ourselves into a great position at 3-0 and looked like we could go on and score even more.
Having not played in so long, it was great for us and for team spirit to kick off 2009 with a win. We play again on Saturday against Crewe so, with a bit of luck, we can kick on from here, and who knows where it will take us?
It's always nice to have your best players around. Jose Baxter and Jack Rodwell weren't available for the third round tie with Nantwich - Jose was injured and Jack was involved with the first team - and I was delighted to welcome both back.
It gave us a big lift but, at the same time, it's almost like starting over with a new team. Thankfully, we had them training with us for a couple of days which gave us a chance to bed the team together and obviously we saw the results on the night.
The FA Youth Cup gives the lads the opportunity to be seen by senior staff, where often that's not possible on a Saturday morning when we play our league games.
It's in the interests of all of them to do well and they look at the likes of Jose and Jack, who have made their first team debuts already, and it gives everybody hope that they can achieve what they have. They are both smashing role models, not just for the lads around them in the Under-18s, but for every child in the Academy programme who dreams of playing for Everton one day.
As for our fifth round opponents, Norwich, I'm sure they'll be very excited at the prospect of playing at Goodison. But that goes for our lads too because it's still a little abnormal for us to do that.
I think our lads are better for having played there against Nantwich because I do believe playing there for the first time can be a little overwhelming. Hopefully this time the lads will be more relaxed, will relish the occasion and will give a performance for all the home supporters to enjoy.
See you there.