Brighton & Hove Albion academy manager John Morling emphasised that Monday evening’s fantastic 3-1 win away to Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup fourth round is an occasion the young Seagulls will never forget.
Goals from Peter Gwargis, Ryan Longman and Haydon Roberts saw the side progress to the next stage of the prestigious competition in style at Leigh Valley Sports Village, and Morling was delighted for everyone connected with the team.
He said, “It was a great night all round for the players and staff, as well as the academy and the club as a whole.
“No matter what the lads go on to achieve now they will remember this night forever and that’s great.
“They’ve worked really hard and scored three good goals, they defended well when they had to, and it was just a really good tactical performance overall.”
“We overcame another tough test against West Ham United, and we’ve had some tough draws in the third round of this competition in previous years too, getting category one clubs for the last six years in a row.”
This win continues the academy’s recent run of success that has seen the under-23 side win promotion and ply their trade towards the top of Premier League 2 Division 1.
“The academy is doing well at the moment and it’s all part of a process where we try to improve each year,” Morling continued.
“The under-23s started very well, and a mark of how well they’ve done is the number of Football League clubs who are looking at taking the players from that group on loan.
“That’s great and it shows the progress they’ve made, you hope that it brings them closer to Chris Hughton’s first team and some have been on the bench recently which is great, as well as three debuts in the Carabao Cup against Southampton at the end of August.
“We have some in the league, some in the first-team frame, and the boys who have come into the fold for those who’ve gone out on loan, have stepped up to the challenge so for us it’s all about continuing to raise the level.
“We want to try and keep making those better players on and off the pitch – if they get an opportunity they have to take it and keep aiming as high as they can.
“That goes for all of the staff behind the scenes in the academy too, our job is to be the best we can in our own departments and to give the players as much help as possible to be the best they can be.”
Next up in the competition for Mikey Harris's and Mark Beard’s side is an away tie against Everton, and Morling looked ahead to the contest on Merseyside, as well as the overall objectives of the under-18 group as a whole.
“The aim for Mikey, Mark and the rest of the uner-18s staff to get as many players as possible into Simon Rusk’s under-23 group, and then from that group you want as many as possible around the first team.
“We want as many professional footballers as possible, that’s our job, we’ll enjoy the win in this competition - but we want as many as players progressing into professional football as possible.
“Now we have another really tough draw away to Everton in the next round to tackle, and the under-23s have a great European game with Bayern Munch – they will both be great matches for the boys and offer different challenges to their league games, it’s a great learning process.”