Professional Development Coach, John Ward, was beaming with delight after seeing his side book our place in the semi-finals of the Birmingham Senior Cup with a 2-1 win at Solihull Moors.
The National League side fielded a full strength line-up at Damson Lane on Tuesday night, whilst the Saddlers took a mixture of young professionals and youth team players.
Despite falling behind to a Luke Rodgers goal 20 minutes form time, Ward’s men rallied late on to turn the game on its head.
First through a well-taken Jordon Sangha strike and then Cameron Peters, who continued his purple patch in front of goal, turned home the match winner from close range.
“They’re the holders of the cup and they went with their strongest side available so it was a fantastic result for us,” explained Ward. “We’ve gone with our regular young side and said ‘go on there’s a challenge for you.’
“We talked about last year and the games against Lichfield and Stafford where the group wasn’t quite ready.
“This was up there with the biggest challenge we’ve had this season and not only were we ready for it but and came away with a terrific result so we’re very pleased.
“There weren’t lots of chances in the first half but what was impressive was how solid we were as a unit.
“We’ve got a couple of first years in there in Brandon Ganley and Ben Kendrick and so there was lots of learning on the job.
“You’re always apprehensive when you throw a couple of young players in but they both looked like good, young, confident men.
“So did Dan Vann who plays a difficult position for a 17 year old but he stood up strong.
“We kept a good shape and we looked really organised as a group.
“We had Maz [Kouhyar] coming back from injury and Liam [Kinsella] alongside these young lads, so we had some knowledge and experience in there and they made sure we didn’t get pulled around.”
Head of Academy, Graham Biggs, again joined Ward in the dugout and the pair pondered a change after falling behind on the 70th minute.
“We kept plugging away and we stuck to our task but I spoke with Graham [Biggs] and the temptation was to change it.
“We stayed patient and kept believing in the lads who were on there and got ourselves back in the game with a really well taken goal by Jordon Sangha and we just kept going.
“We had the momentum and Cameron Peters manages to find a winner ten minutes before the end and it was deserved as well.
“We wanted to get the result but we also had to do what was best for the club as well in terms of returning players.
“Rory Oliver has come in to play 45 minutes and Maz Kouhyar, who’s been out a few months played 75 minutes so we’re treating the games very seriously but also treating the players correctly as well. “It’s a development group and it’s developing very well.
“Milan Butterfield is getting better with every game and Liam Kinsella is an outstanding young man in the way he plays and carries himself.
“He’s not an older player by any means but he’s great for the young lads to look up to in the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch.
“Cameron Peters has 14 goals in 22 games at youth and development squad level so we’re not getting carried away but there are moments when do get more excited and this was one of them.
“I tend to get the players together on the pitch after the game and had a chat for 5 minutes last night.
“They knew they’d played well and I think that’s really important as we take a closer look at why we did today and tomorrow.
“We’ve got more games coming up and we’re filling up the fixture list quite nicely now.
“It’s exciting but we’ll get straight back to work and hopefully one or two might be involved with the Senior Squad come Saturday.”