BURNLEY play hosts to Blackburn Rovers tonight at Turf Moor in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-final and the team are excited at the prospect.
“We can’t wait to get on the pitch and play the second leg.
“We’re looking forward to showing our stuff to the fans at home and hopefully we can get the crowd behind us and get a good result” said Australian right-back Aryn Williams.
The 18-year-old commented on the ambience at the first leg of derby and urged the home fans to turn out and get behind the young side at Turf Moor:
“Some of the players were in awe of the atmosphere.
“I don’t think anyone has actually played in a Burnley/Blackburn atmosphere which is a lot different.
“Having the Burnley fans on your side would be a lot better considering that there were 7,000 Blackburn fans against us at the away leg so hopefully it will be the other way round. Hopefully we will put a good performance in in the first half so they get behind us in the second and then we can just push on”
Aryn has two brothers who have also moved to from Australia to play football in England. His twin, Ryan, is at Fulham while his older brother and ex-Claret Rhys Williams plays for Middlesbrough and will be travelling down for the game on Wednesday.
“That will be good for Rhys because he used to play for Burnley as well so he knows the atmosphere
Signed by Burnley Perth-based ECU Joondalup FC, Williams respects his brothers’ opinions:
“They just gave me a bit of insight on what they think I should be working on because they’re both in their professional contracts at the minute and my older brother’s played for his country so I just listened to them
“It’s good when they come and watch because they give me a good idea what I need to work on.
“I called Rhys the other day before the Blackburn game and he said ‘Just enjoy it, don’t let the crowd get in your head and just play for the game and not the occasion’ and that’s what I did.”
The first leg of the derby played at Ewood Park turned out a 10, 000-strong crowd including 3,000 travelling away fans. The spectacle of this Lancashire derby is something that some of the youth players had never experienced before. Williams is buoyed by the rivalry but also admitted that it can be intimidating:
“A lot of the players were getting abuse from the Blackburn fans so it’s sort of a lot to take in
“Considering that I’m not from anywhere near this part of the world, in the game I heard my name shout from the crowd and then I heard the usual derby taunts and wondered ‘how do they associate that with me?!’ but it’s only because I play for Burnley that they’re coming out with this stuff – it’s quite funny actually.
Williams sought the advice of experienced brother Rhys on how to deal with receiving distasteful insults at such close-range:
“I speak to him often about what do you do when you’re taking a throw in when you pick the ball up and there’s fans behind you, shouting names at you, calling you all sorts.
“He just goes ‘Just blank them out, just think of the game game, just think of anything but don’t let them get in your head because then that’ll just mess your game up, you’ll start doing silly stuff and you’ll give the ball away and then you’ll make a mess of your game’”
Rather than shy away from it, the abuse only makes Williams more determined to get a win for the Clarets.
“Now I’ve heard all the stuff they’ve been saying I just want to get two goals against them, three goals against them
“A goal would be great, a first goal at Turf would be brilliant, especially against Blackburn”
The Blackburn team were physically a lot stronger than the Burnley side and so dominated in the air, making them a definite threat when it came to set pieces. However the Clarets defended these well given the differences in the physicality of the two teams. As Blackburn’s preference to play in a more physical manner was evident in the first leg, the attack-minded defender gave his thoughts:
“They’re big, strong players.
“I think we’re a bit more athletic than them, a bit more agile
“They’re rough and like to get their head in the way and their feet in the way and get a few yellow cards as you’ve seen
“We’ve just got to keep the ball on the ground and keep it away from the two centre halves really so our game plan is to play the ball on the floor.
“We just need to believe in ourselves, believe in our footballing ability
“We had a few good chances of scoring. I just wish we’d took our chance when they got a player sent off
On a personal level, Aryn will be looking to push forward in Wednesday night’s return leg, but understands that he needs to choose his moments carefully:
“I enjoy it but I just need to make sure that I don’t run forward when we don’t have good possession because if it breaks down then I’ve got a long way to run back
“I just need to keep it going make sure I get forward at the right times.
“They have a few players that have played for the first team but so have we so we’re evens I think
“We have it in our locker to be able to play with them and outplay them.
The young Australian moved to England when he was just sixteen and is pleased with his progress:
“I think I’ve come a long way in the past 18 months that I’ve been here. It’s good.
“It has made me mature, especially having to look after myself a little bit more, on the pitch as well
“I just had to adapt myself quicker, mentally adapt myself quicker as well.
Versatile right-back Aryn considers older brother Rhys to be some-what of a role-model and thinks he was a major influence on him joining Burnley:
“He was because obviously he played for Burnley
“I remember watching him on the TV and he put in a wicked cross against Sheffield United a couple of games before the play-offs and Paterson headed it in the goal and I just thought that looks like a really good club “I spoke to his agent and he got me some trials over here and a couple of other clubs and I just said I really like this club and I want to play here.
“It’s a good family club and all the players are nice.
“All the boys are just family to me now because obviously I don’t have family over here, only my two brothers
“The coaches have been excellent and everyone’s just been perfect to me.
Burnley’s youth star has booked flights back to Australia for the summer but may have to reschedule his plans if the Clarets overturn Blackburn’s slim 1-0 lead on Wednesday:
“Hopefully if we make the FA Youth Final I wont be going home on the date that I’ve booked
“I hope we do make it because I want to stay and I want to win the FA Youth Cup but I obviously want to go home as well and see my family
“I will have to change my ticket. It will definitely be worth it, anything would be worth it. I wouldn’t even go home this summer if we made it into the FA Youth Cup final because it’s a big achievement for the club, a big achievement for us lads
“I never thought that I’d be in the FA Youth Cup final coming over from Australia and playing for Burnley who’re in the Championship – it’s just amazing really”
The young Claret has high hopes for the team and is positive there is a lot more to come from the youth side:
“I don’t think we played at our full potential against them.
“They did everything we worked on. We dealt with it really well
“I think we could have passed the ball a lot better and played it a lot better than we did
“I don’t think they’ve seen the best of us.