Edu Rubio was pleased to see his MK Dons Under-18s side stick to their values during their First Round FA Youth Cup victory over the Shrimpers.
The Under-18s started their FA Youth Cup campaign win a 1-0 win over Southend at Stadium MK on Tuesday night.
Jay Bird’s first-half strike proved to be the only goal of the game, however, the young Dons' overall performance was perhaps deserving of a bigger scoreline.
“We knew that it was going to be a very tough game and we knew that it was going to be a very even match,” Rubio said after the final whistle.
“We also knew that Southend were going to look to play the long ball in behind and it was going to be a game where we had to be on our toes and the back four had to be ready for that - but I felt the boys were very good.
“I saw them show unity, togetherness and unselfishness. These are the kind of values that they have developed having come through the system. They have displayed those this season and I think they’ve done extremely well to stick by them.
“It was important that we were united and together throughout the whole game as we knew the last five minutes were going to be tough - but I’m so happy that we stuck to our identity.”
He added, “That’s the kind of things we want to do but we always knew we had to get the result as this is a knockout competition and managing the game was important for us.”
With over 350 fans in attendance on a bitterly cold Tuesday night, Rubio took time to praise the fans that constantly show their support for the Academy.
“The supporters are brilliant with us, they really embrace the values of the Academy and support the lads.
“They know that we have a club here that really believe in Academy players and really believe in the idea of trying to get academy players into the first team.
"We are blessed and very grateful to see them all make an effort on a freezing evening and show their support for the youngsters because these boys are full of passion and they really do love the club.”
The FA Youth Cup enables academy starlets the chance to run out onto the hallowed Stadium MK turf, while some coaches may see this as added pressure - Rubio believes it’s more of a pleasure for the boys.
“Having the chance to work in this environment, to play at this stadium and to be in a club that promotes youngsters into the first team – I don’t think that’s pressure. I think that’s a pleasure.
“The lads have to embrace that and they have to make sure when they come to play in games such as this that they are full of excitement, full of passion and they make sure they do their best to impress the gaffer and the chairman.”
Rubio concluded, “As I always say – we have 11 people defending, 11 people attacking and 16 of them winning.”