Steve Thornber insists City’s young guns have had a season to remember even if they miss out on the double at Valley Parade tonight.

The under-18s host southern champions Colchester in the Youth Alliance Cup final, looking to add another trophy to the north-east league title they won with ease.

City anticipate a sizeable home crowd to see their highly-rated youngsters and coach Thornber believes it will be a special night.

He said: “It’s going to be a great atmosphere and something the lads have probably never encountered before.

“There could be anywhere between 1,000 up to 3,000 people here. There were rumoured to be 800 for the Hull game so they got a little taste of it.

“What makes it more special is that it’s a night game under the floodlights. Everyone has been looking forward to it.

“But win or lose, it’s been a fantastic season. We’ve had lads progressing into the first team, we’ve won the league at such an early stage and got through to this final.”

City beat Hull 1-0 in the northern regional final having already clinched their league crown with three games to spare. They did not lose in the league until March – when five of the team had been called into the senior squad.

Thornber added: “We’ve been in so many situations in games when we’ve gone behind or even two goals down. It’s just a never-say-die attitude.

“It’s not about winning the league, it’s about getting lads through. But obviously it does help. Getting through to the national final of a cup shows what good players we have coming through.

“You look at the spine of the team; Olly McBurnie up top with 27 goals in 16 games for us, Jack Stockdill in midfield and Niall Heaton at the back.

“We have been big and strong this year, not just physically but also technically.”

Keeper James Bransgrove was Colchester’s hero in the southern final, saving two penalties in a shoot-out win over Portsmouth.

City had that game watched and Thornber said: “By all accounts Colchester have a number of lads who’ve been on the bench or played in their first team.”

The game kicks off at 7pm and admission is free.