Ilkeston FC’s under-18s will host Newcastle United tonight (Wednesday) in the third round of the FA Youth Cup.
It will be arguably the Robins’ biggest ever game at any level since the club formed in 2010, and will be the biggest showcase yet of the highly-acclaimed full-time academy setup at the New Manor Ground.
Ilkeston have won five ties to get this far, most notably seeing off Burton Albion in the first round proper and then Shrewsbury Town 4-1 to set up the tie with the Magpies.
Academy coach Steve Welsh said: “It’s a massive night. We’ve earned the right to play Newcastle having beaten some very good sides en route, and everyone is looking forward to it.
“It’s a great chance to show the people of Ilkeston what we’re about and I hope to see a big crowd at the New Manor Ground.”
Ilkeston FC chief executive Nigel Harrop added: “It’s the biggest game in Ilkeston’s history. There’s only one other non-league side left in the competition (Metropolitan Police) and whatever the score is our boys won’t let us down.
“The fact we’ve got this far is unbelievable and gives us the chance to show the people of Ilkeston and beyond just what we’re about.
“People in the game think we’ve done brilliantly with our academy and put a lot of bigger clubs to shame but strangely, whilst many of the fans are really buying into what we’re doing now, a lot of people in the town still aren’t aware of just how impressive it is. A game like this will help greatly.”
Admission for tonight’s game is £3 for adults, £1 concessions and free for children. Kick-off is 7.45pm and the tie will be played to a conclusion with extra-time and penalties if required.
The winners of tonight’s game will host AFC Wimbledon in round four after they beat Watford.