Driver bursting with pride despite Hatters’ FA Youth Cup exit

Hatters U18s boss Paul Driver
Hatters U18s boss Paul Driver

Hatters U18s boss Paul Driver has urged his side to take a massive amount of pride from their FA Youth Cup exit at the hands of Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night.

Up against their Premier League academy opponents, Driver’s side were only undone by Lewis Hardcastle’s deflected free kick in the 12th minutes.

Driver told the club’s official website: “A lot of them are down in the dressing room, but there’s a massive sense of pride of everything they’ve achieved this season.

“We’ve told them they can hold their heads high. They’re down because, for a number of reasons, individually and collectively, that wanted to get through.

“At the moment there is disappointment, but the fact remains that they have been outstanding.

“To come here and give a strong Category 1 side that good a game we can’t be anything but proud.”

“To come here and give a strong Category 1 side that good a game we can’t be anything but proud.”

Paul Driver

Rovers keeper Andy Fisher proved a thorn in the visitors side, with a string of fine stops, none better than tipping Jack Snelus’ effort on to the bar.

Driver continued: “I was off down the touchline, I thought that was in!

“It was top save and it was the difference between losing and taking the game to extra-time.

“There’s a touch of misfortune about their goal, it’s come off the wall – it’s one of those things.

“There’s a deflection at one end for them and then there was brilliance at the other end from their keeper.”

Hatters youngsters were cheered on by around 200 supporters at Ewood Park, swelling the attendance to over 700 as the boss paid tribute to the travelling fans.

He said: “The support was great, it was tremendous for so many fans to come here.

“The reason they came all this way was to watch the kids was because of what the team had done before.”

Hatters still have a chance of further silverware this season now as after winning the South East Youth Alliance title, they take on Swindon Town in the Youth Alliance League Cup, a competition for all 50 Category 3 academy clubs in the EPPP system.

Hatters host the Robins in the area final at Kenilworth Road on Thursday, March 3 as Driver added: “We’ve got to come out and prove that we are, by a country mile, the best Cat-3 club.

“We want to put on a show in the Swindon game and I hope we can a good crowd in.

“We’ve said the season’s not over: there’s potentially two more cup finals and all the players have something to play for.”