Academy. Parkinson plotting FA Youth Cup passage

16 Jan 23

Newcastle United Under-18s host Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup fourth round on Tuesday night, with captain Ben Parkinson aiming to create further special memories in the competition.

Parkinson played a pivotal role in securing United's place in round four as the teenage striker's brace, along with Johnny Emerson's winner, sealed a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory against their Charlton Athletic counterparts at The Valley.

The 17-year-old forward reflected on a memorable night in the capital and revealed the squad are relishing another highly-anticipated cup tie when they face Arsenal at St. James' Park (kick-off 7pm GMT), who defeated Millwall 6-0 in round three.

"There's a different atmosphere in the group when the Youth Cup comes around," the Durham-born teenager told "Everyone is really excited for this game. With the first game we played being away at Charlton, we just wanted to get through and hopefully get a home draw which we did.

"That match was probably one of the fondest moments of my career so far. Playing at a stadium like The Valley was a great experience which I really enjoyed.

"The celebrations in the changing room afterwards with everyone after getting over the line with it being a tough game was one of the fondest memories I've had in football and I'm assuming for a lot of the other lads too."

Parkinson was part of the squad which reached the FA Youth Cup fifth round last term, featuring in front of 1,278 fans at St. James' Park as Newcastle's youngsters prevailed in a five-goal thriller against Colchester United.

A Magpies supporter growing up, Parkinson revealed his delight of being rewarded with a home draw against the Gunners and will be hoping for the Toon Army will show their backing for the youngsters once again this year.

Parkinson, who joined United's youth set-up at the age of seven, added: "I think that means a lot for myself and the other lads as, last year, there was a good turnout from the crowd which added a bit extra to the game.

"They were almost like the 12th man, pushing us through to the final whistle so I think it was very important to get a home draw and it should help us to push on and make us, hopefully, bring home another good result.

"It was a really enjoyable experience last year and I want to push on and try replicating what we did last season but taking it an extra step further. It was amazing playing in front of a crowd, especially at St. James' Park as it's things like that which you dream of as a kid, especially growing up as a Newcastle fan.

"As a youth player, you only get two shots in this competition and going as far as you can is the aim. To get home draws, with the fans behind your back and pushing you on, is ideal and there's a lot of memories to be made in the FA Youth Cup."

It has a bright season in front of goal so far for Parkinson, who has scored eight goals in 15 games across all competitions at under-18 level, with the promising youngster netting against Arsenal in the Under-18 Premier League Cup group stages as the young Magpies claimed a 4-2 win against the North London outfit.

A debutant for Newcastle's under-21 side in September 2022 during a Papa John's Trophy clash against Barnsley, Parkinson is aiming for a similar result on Tuesday against the seven-time FA Youth Cup winners as well as adding to his goalscoring tally.

He added: "At the start of the season, there was very good morale in the camp and I think that's what pushed us through to get a good result in that game. We went 2-1 down early on but we dug deep and won 4-2. We're expecting a similar challenge on Tuesday as they like to keep the ball and play football.

"If we're aggressive and take on the task in hand, fighting, then I have no doubt we'll be able to get the result that we want.

"I've got a lot of confidence that I've built up over the season. Being an attacking player and scoring goals is my job so that's helped me gain confidence. I've scored against Arsenal and it's something I want to do again and add more to my tally, especially in the Youth Cup."

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