A youthful Rochdale side, with an average age of just 22, progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday with a well-deserved 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
Six Academy graduates were named in the squad to face the Championship side, with four starting the match – Jamie Allen, Callum Camps, Joel Logan and Scott Tanser, two of which were making their first starts of the season.
In December 2012, all six players represented Dale in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup against Forest. Allen, Cannon (who was named on the bench on Saturday), Camps, Logan and Tanser started the Youth Cup match at the County Ground, while Johny Diba appeared on the bench.
Assistant Manager Chris Beech, who was Youth Team Manager at the time, spoke to the press after Saturday’s FA Cup win over Forest, and beamed with pride as he reflected on the third round victory at Spotland.
He told Dale Player: “It was a very competitive and quick game. After we scored the penalty we had a couple of real good chances and we didn’t put them away, but of course at 1-0 the game is always on the edge and the lads defended resolutely in the second half.
“Forest have good players – there's millions of pounds worth of talent on that pitch. There’s a massive void in finances of the football clubs and the standards that they play at, but from our point of a view as a football club there were six players in that squad today that represented Rochdale in the FA Youth Cup just over two years ago.
“To have six in the squad and four starting the game, it’s, dare I say it, almost a lower league class of 92. It’s unbelievable, I’m so pleased for them. I consider having six of the home grown players within that squad to be a real big deal.”
He continued: “They’re technical players with a good upbringing but it’s the other side of the game. It’s not ability of what they do with the football, it’s what they do off the ball. We coach three things - we want our players to be the best they can be with the football, but we definitely want them to be very good without it and we want to be very concentrated in transition of that ball. That’s what we work on.
“Those boys that you’ve talked about dominated youth football – possession, goals, games, wins and cup runs, so they’ve had a bit to learn in the last couple of years. It’s the other side of the game that we want to see an improvement in because we know if we do that, then you get displays like today, so long may it last.
“It’s just a great day for the football club and I shouldn’t forget about the senior players within that. While we’re so excited about the team sheet being so young, at the same time the other players managed out there for us.”
The full interview is available on Dale Player.