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Dove: A proper cup tie

19 November 2014

Director of Youth Mike Dove described the nine-goal thriller with Newport County as a ‘proper cup tie’ and was pleased that his Under-18s side came out on top.

The young Dons booked their place in the third round of The FA Youth Cup with a 5-4 victory over the Exiles at Rodney Parade – the decisive goal coming courtesy of the in-form Kabongo Tshimanga in the penultimate minute of extra time.

“I’m worn out and I didn’t even play,” Dove told “It was a proper cup tie and for the people watching, it would have been great.

“There were fantastic goals in the game from both teams, and the people in the stands saw some tremendous football as well as those strikes. It was all in there.

“At times I loved the football we were playing, but I thought we needed to show a little less naivety in possession.

“At the end it just became a battle of energy. Some of the boys said afterwards that it was a different learning experience for them, and that’s what the Youth Cup is for.

“Newport’s energy across the pitch was excellent and it helped to provide a good tempo to the game. Newport brought a lot to the game but I thought we edged it.

“Giorgio Rasulo was outstanding, he made a major difference for us and they struggled to cope with him. He’s got the ability to get that second goal he got.”

Dove’s boys, after falling behind to an early goal, led 4-1 heading into the final stages but three quick-fire strikes from the hosts saw the game extended by an extra 30  minutes.

“It was frustrating but I don’t think we could have done anything about their goals. Our back four were tremendous and they couldn’t do much when they’re scoring from 25-yards.

“In extra-time I said to Kabongo, ‘when are you going to score?’ It had got to the point where I’d started thinking about my penalty takers but I knew we still had time left and then Kabongo got his goal.

“Normally I’m shouting ‘reset’ after a goal to remind them to get back into position but celebrating that goal was absolutely the right thing to do. They’d put everything they had into the game and got their rewards. I said to them afterwards, you’ve got to remember this because it’s a good learning curve.”

The young Dons’ reward for their hard-fought win is a trip to the County Ground to take on Nottingham Forest and Dove says it’s a test he and the team are looking forward to.

“We’re looking forward to the game,” he added. “We haven’t been involved with Nottingham Forest since we became Category 3 but I know they’re going to be a very good side as they always have been.

“The County Ground an historic and famous place so it’s going to be fantastic. It will be a good test and a different one to today.”

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