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Ben Clark praises commitment following FA Youth Cup exit
Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

30th September 2021

Ben Clark praised his under-18 side’s effort after a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat in the FA Youth Cup at Blyth Spartans.

The youngsters battling performance on Wednesday evening saw the 90 minutes end goalless, before Blyth secured passage to the third qualifying round via spot-kicks.

“Like I said in the last round, it’s pot luck,” said Clark.

“We got that luck last time but this time we haven’t gone through.

“I was really pleased with the lads’ commitment and desire during the game in general once again.

“We’ve got to be better with the ball but I can’t ask for any more from the lads in terms of effort.

“If this was a normal game we’d have taken a clean sheet, a point and moved on but credit to Blyth as our keeper [Sam Wilson] made some good saves.

“The lads kept a clean sheet which is what I asked from them before the game – I played as a defender so I love clean sheets, and that was a big plus.

“We’ve had a few good chances as well, Connor Pani had one and their keeper made some saves so again it was a good advocate for local football but it’s disappointing to go out.”

The under-18’s experience two penalty shoot-outs in this season’s FA Youth Cup, coming out on top at Spennymoor Town before last night’s exit at Croft Park, and Clark feels that experience can only be beneficial.

“Going through the lottery of penalties is fantastic for them,” he added.

“Connor [Pani] has missed one, but he has done really well and has been involved with the first team so that’s a great plus for us.

“The lads have learned that they can handle that pressure now, so it’s great education for them to go through penalties.

“It takes bottle to take a penalty and you can only give credit for that.

“I’ve been through it myself, supporters might remember I missed in an FA Trophy quarter-final and it’s not a nice way to lose.

“Mike Williamson was here to watch and it’s great for the lads to play in front of him, as well as Ian Watson and Alex Nicholson who were also here tonight.

“To have the first-team showing their support for the lads was great and it gives Mike a chance to see some of our lads play.”

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