City Academy boss Ricky Martin knew how tonight would end. He only had to look into the eyes of Declan Rudd to know that a place in the last eight of this season's FA Youth Cup competition was his.
And for the second successive round, the teenage Canary keeper didn't disappoint.
Three times he would save from the spot in tonight's fifth round penalty shoot-out as Everton became the third Premiership scalp to fall to the Norfolk club en route to a date with the current FA Youth Cup holders Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium.
“I said to the boys this is deja vu – we've been here before,” said a delighted Martin tonight, after City's fourth round home tie with Stoke City likewise ended at 1-1 after full and extra-time only for Rudd to do his thing.
Two big saves and a fifth and final penalty converted booked Norwich's place in the fifth round. Tonight and Rudd didn't even need to take his prescribed fifth penalty – he'd long since done the job with his hands as City won 3-1 on penalties.
“I just said to him: 'Declan, I'm going to repeat to you what I said last time – this is your time; this is your chance.
“And the look in his eyes was telling me that he was going to do it – and to save three out of the five penalties was unbelievable.”
The third was, said Martin, extra sweet. “He was up against Jose Baxter for that one – the lad who's been involved with the first team; he's in the same England year group as Jed Steer.
“So there was a bit of a point to prove there. And Declan's save was just immense. And this time he's done it all with his hands – he didn't even have to take that fifth and final penalty that he was done for. I'm absolutely delighted.”
After both Josh Dawkin and Danny Kelly had rattled the woodwork in normal time, Everton stole into the lead in the first period of extra-time when Lee McArdle's 22-yard free kick rocketed past Rudd.
Merseyside's joy, however, proved short-lived as Tom Adeyemi's hopeful shot from the edge of the box slipped beneath the keeper's body and duly gave Rudd the kind of stage he craves as first Bidwell, then Duffy and finally England starlet Baxter all failed to find a way beyond the Canary keeper.
This time last year, of course, and the story wasn't quite the same.
“It was all quite emotional at the end,” said Martin, after what has been quite a journey for manager and players alike.
“And I asked them for a moment of quiet and for them to just think for a moment of the transition that we've all been through over the last 12 months – since that night at the Stadium Of Light when we lost 6-1 to Sunderland in the FA Youth Cup.
“That was a very dark day; a hard day – for them and myself personally,” added Martin, particularly given the fact that then boss Glenn Roeder was just starting to sharpen the axe in preparation for his Colney cull.
“The boys, in particular, had to be very resiliant – it was very tough for them. But they've come through it successfully and for them to be in the last eight of this competition is a fantastic achievement.”
Martin is under few illusions as to the challenge that now awaits.
“Manchester City are the holders; they're unbeaten this season; they're top of their northern league – they're absolutely flying.
“They're producing some fine young players and they're now one of the richest clubs in Europe. But wow – this is what football is all about.
“And we won't be going there just for the ride. We'll be going there with a definite game plan and, hopefully, it'll be successful. We've already beaten three Premiership sides to get this far, so why can't we make it four?”
And given the events of the last two rounds, with Master Rudd around anything and everything is clearly possible for Martin's Class of '09.
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