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Jimmy Unwin hails Cambridge United’s fantastic young guns for win over Premier League Leeds United



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Kai Yearn scored Cambridge United under-18's first goal in their FA Youth Cup win over Leeds United. Picture: Ben Phillips/Captured Cambridge_Sport
Kai Yearn scored Cambridge United under-18's first goal in their FA Youth Cup win over Leeds United. Picture: Ben Phillips/Captured Cambridge_Sport

Jimmy Unwin hailed Cambridge United’s fantastic young guns after an impressive performance saw them knock Premier League Leeds United out of the FA Youth Cup.

First-half goals from Kai Yearn and Brandon Njoku did the damage in the fourth round match between the under-18 teams at the Abbey Stadium as the U’s won 2-0 to set up a home clash with Nottingham Forest in the next stage of the competition.

“The boys were fantastic - everyone including the staff as well - to execute the game-plan and also get through those 90-odd minutes they played with that intensity against a really, really good team who are internationals,” said Unwin, the U’s professional development phase lead coach.

“There is credit to Adam Fleming who has come in as our strength and conditioning coach, who has done a lot of work physically with the boys and I think they’re in a really good place because of him physically.

“We’ve got a confident bunch of boys, but a really good bunch of boys as well who stick together.

“They are confident, good with the ball, we do a lot of technical work with the boys and a lot of possession so they are comfortable on the ball.

“You see the likes of Kai Yearn, Glenn McConnell, Nathan Brathwaite, Saleem (Akanbi), Brandon Njoku, they can link the game up in midfield, and then we’ve got George Hoddle at the bottom of the diamond who likes having the ball as well.

“It goes throughout the team and hopefully it reflects on our academy how we play. The second half was totally different because we played more of a direct game in their half and then we got shots on the regain.

“The boys carried out the job brilliantly.”

The manner of the performance was such that United could have won by a greater margin as they carved open a whole host of chances.

“On the second-half balance, we probably had about 10 shots and the goalkeeper has made quite a few saves for them,” said Unwin.

“I was really pleased at how we dealt with that by using the ball in transition, getting shots away and making the keeper work.

“I think we thoroughly deserved it.”

It also means that the young U’s have emulated the first team’s achievement, after they knocked out a Premier League team in the FA Cup, with Joe Ironside’s goal seeing off Newcastle United at St James’ Park nearly two weeks ago.

“It’s exactly what we wanted,” said Unwin. “The first team had their moment, Kai and Glenn were on the bench for that.

“We wanted to do that as a group of staff and also as a group of young people who are making memories.

“This will be a good memory for them in their careers, but they’ve got to make a lot more memories and be a professional footballer with 150 or 200 games, and that will start making better memories for them.”

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