Rotherham United Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Rob Poulter was immensely proud of the Millers’ display, as they pushed Arsenal all the way in the Third Round of the FA Youth Cup at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
It took until 15 minutes from time for the Gunners to break the deadlock after some resolute defending from the home side and it was a moment of quality from midfielder Charlie Patino, who found the top corner from 25 yards.
The young guns refused to throw the towel in though and were back on level terms just moments later, when Jerome Greaves equalised from the spot, following a foul on Ciaran McGuckin in the area.
The Millers were dealt a cruel blow just two minutes from time, as Mazeed Ogungbo popped up to head home from a set-piece and book the Londoners a place in the next round. Despite the defeat, Poulter was full of praise for the team.
“We’ve given them a really good game and they’ve gone off at the end delighted with their victory and that shows you how far we’ve come. The lads gave an absolutely monumental effort tonight, even the ones that didn’t get on. I know we’ve lost but I can’t be prouder after that tonight, I thought we were brilliant,” Poulter told www.themillers.co.uk.
“We’re not going to go up against Arsenal and go toe-to-toe with them, that would be naive from my point of view, we’ve done a lot of work on the training pitch, we’ve had them watched live. They like to keep the ball as you would expect. The message tonight, was the keep the ball infront, don’t get beat inside the pitch, let the ball go out wide and we’ll deal with it.
“It’s taken a worldy to break us down, sometimes you have to take your hat off to quality, but in terms of our lads we’ve put a lot in on the training pitch and it has shown tonight. The lads are gutted we lost 2-1 to Arsenal and I think that says everything.”
A lot of work had gone in on the training pitch to prepare for the clash with the Gunners and Poulter has urged his side to now take the performance into their next league fixture.
“In the last six weeks we’ve been letting goals in way too easily and the teams we’ve played against unfortunately haven’t had to work hard to score their goals. We’ve had to change that and we’ve worked extremely hard on the training ground to rectify it.
“In terms of going forward I think this is going to stand us in really good stead, are we going to come against a team of this calibre every week? Of course we’re not, it’s a one off game. Sometimes playing at the stadium the lads give that little bit more, but they have to go and reproduce that against Mansfield on Friday.”