Blackpool’s confidence is ‘sky high’ according to John Murphy ahead of FA Youth Cup tie against Cheltenham Town

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Cheltenham Town stand in the way of Blackpool sealing a spot in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.


The Under-19s make the trip to Whaddon Road tomorrow night (7pm kick-off) after seeing off Huddersfield Town 1-0 at Bloomfield Road in the previous round. Cheltenham, meanwhile, secured their passage through to the next stage of the competition with a 4-0 win against Rugby Town.

The young Seasiders made the best possible preparation for tomorrow night’s cup tie by thrashing Tranmere Rovers in the league on Friday to keep them fourth in the table.

John Murphy’s side hit Tranmere for nine as Johnny Johnston, the hero of Blackpool’s FA Youth Cup third round win, was at the double again.

Strike partner Jake Daniels, meanwhile, also netted twice, while Arnold Matshazi, Joe Strawn and Zack Littler also found the back of the net.

Blackpool’s second of the game came via a Tranmere own goal, while seven of Blackpool’s nine goals came within the first hour.

“I think we’ve got to feel confident given the latest results we’ve had,” Murphy told The Gazette.

Under-19s boss John Murphy

Under-19s boss John Murphy

“If you’re winning games then confidence breeds itself and spreads.

“We’re looking forward to it. We’ve got a fully fit squad, which is an achievement in itself in this current climate.

“We had a good win in our last game where we did everything we had to do and the goals were a bonus.

“There have been games this season where we’ve threatened to put someone to the sword and Friday was that day.

“Confidence should be sky high because of that and everyone should be looking forward to the game.”

Blackpool put out a strong side against Tranmere on Friday, although Luke Mariette – one of the stars of their third round win – began the game on the bench.

“It was an opportunity to play a strong team but rest a few players. It was also a good opportunity to look at a couple of other things,” Murphy added.

“We knew Tranmere always work hard but over the years their teams haven’t been as good as they used to be because their academy has downsized a bit.

“But we knew it would be a test in terms of a physical battle and it was that, but on the day we played some good stuff and scored some good goals.

“We came through it unscathed, some people that needed minutes got minutes, people that needed rest got rest, so it was a perfect day really.”

At the time of writing, Blackpool’s squad remains unaffected by Covid and all players are available for selection.

“I don’t want to tempt fate but we’ve done everything we can. We’ve stayed separate, we’ve used hand sanitiser, we’ve stuck to all the guidelines,” Murphy said.

“Touch wood, at the moment we’re okay but as we all know an outbreak is never far away.

“We’ve done things the best we can and as of now we’re fine.”

While the players won’t be staying overnight in Gloucestershire, the club plans to treat the day as it’s a first-team affair.

“There will be early travel, there will be lunch, there will be an opportunity to have a sleep in the afternoon, a pre-match meal, on the first-team bus, all those things,” Murphy said.

“These opportunities come around once a year and how far you get determines how many of these nights you have.

“It’s another opportunity, but – not to sound all doom and gloom – it’s not the be-all and end-all.

“But it’s an opportunity to have a fairytale run and pit yourselves against other clubs on a first-team level if you like with the build-up and playing under the lights at a first-team stadium. It all adds to the razzmatazz.

“I’ve been involved in some good evenings during my time here. We had good ones but we’ve also had ones where we’ve been disappointed and that feeling is not great.

“We played Liverpool one year and lost in extra-time, we lost in extra-time to Bolton one year, we’ve lost in close games. The feeling after can be devastating for a little bit.

“But the big picture is that this is a two-year cycle and this is the start of their careers, but this is a great competition. The lads love it and everyone embraces it.”

The Robins, who sit second from bottom in the South West Youth Alliance table, beat North Leigh and Portsmouth in the previous two rounds before overcoming Rugby.

Cheltenham did take Premier League giants Arsenal all the way to penalties during last season’s competition, losing on spot kicks after a 0-0 draw in their third round tie.

“It’s difficult because knowing what team they might put out, there’s a lot of permutations around the team,” Murphy said.

“There’s an Under-19s league and an Under-17s league and there are players out on loan, so you never know what their strongest team is.

“We can watch the videos and gauge the system they might play, but we never really know the personnel.

“At first-team level you can half guess by doing your research, which we try and do but we’re not entirely sure who’s 18, who’s 19 and who plays in what squad.

“We will go there and treat them with respect, but whatever they do we’ve got to deal with it and it’s about what we do. Can they deal with us?

“Our confidence should be high with the way we’re playing, the patterns are forming, the relationships are forming.

“We do our research and we have a look, but it could be completely different on the night.”

The game kicks off at Whaddon Road at 7pm. Admission is priced at £5 for adults and £2 for Under-18s.

It’s understood the game will be live streamed on Blackpool FC’s YouTube page.