Bradford City youth team chasing league and cup double

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: City youth team coach Steve Thornber, right, with Academy manager Peter Horne City youth team coach Steve Thornber, right, with Academy manager Peter Horne

City’s youth team will today make a bid for double glory by adding Youth Alliance cup success to their league title.

Steve Thornber’s side wrapped up the north east division in midweek with three games to spare.

Now they hope to follow that up by beating Hull at Valley Parade this morning in the northern area cup final.

Their memorable campaign – which saw them stay unbeaten in the league until March 11 – has not come as a surprise to the coaching staff.

Academy manager Peter Horne said: “We believed all year with the depth of players here that we were going to achieve something. We just had that feeling right from the start.

“We’ve had to overcome hurdles all the way, like having no (home) pitch. We’ve had to play the biggest part of our season away – there have only been three games at Rawdon Meadows.

“That’s just testament to the character of everyone involved. We’ve had more travelling but the players have been excellent with it and so have the parents.”

With pitch improvements at Apperley Bridge, City’s under-18s had to shift the bulk of their home fixtures to Garforth Town.

They have also lost players to senior call-ups – star striker Oliver McBurnie has been unavailable for league games since Christmas.

McBurnie has netted 22 in the youth team campaign but others have carried on where he left off. The young Bantams are averaging over three goals a game.

“Any team that’s got goal-scorers will win things,” added Horne. “Just look at Liverpool now.

“We’ve been blessed this year. Oli obviously got off to a great start, Joe Brennan has been firing them in, Callum Chippendale before he got injured and now Reece Webb-Foster.

“I’ve got to be honest, Reece is one of the best finishers I’ve seen in a long, long time. He’s got a knack for scoring.

“He’s a cocky, confident kid but that just adds to the belief that he will score goals. George Green was very similar – he’ll try things that others wouldn’t dream of and it ends up in the back of the net.

“At the other end, getting Niall Heaton back from Liverpool was a big plus – and a good bit of business as well. He’s big, strong and quick with a throw like Rory Delap.

“But I’m not just singling them out, they have all been a great bunch throughout the season.

“Steve has done an excellent job with the players on and off the pitch.

“He’s a very calm and calculated person. He doesn’t get angry very often but gets his points across well.”

The winners of today’s game (11am kick-off) will go through to the grand final against the southern champions – either Portsmouth or Colchester.

Admission for fans is free and Horne is hoping for a good turn-out to acknowledge their efforts.

He said: “The first team had a great season last year for the club and the people of Bradford. But I hope people jump on board with this success because it’s a massive achievement.

“If we win it’s fantastic but we’ve won the league already – and to me that’s the hardest achievement. We’ve had a real good go and it’s paid off.”

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