By Kieran Muir
THE Ayrshire derby will provide a boost to the local community when the Ayr United under 20 side take on their Kilmarnock counterparts in the quarter-final SFA Youth Cup.
The intense derby match will be played at Ayr’s Somerset Park on or before Sunday, January 22 2017.
Ayr United’s Head of Youth Development, David White is happy with the draw and thinks the derby will get the full support of the local people.
He said: “We’re delighted with the draw, it’s exciting for the players. It’s been tough to get to the quarter-finals and it is very motivational for the players.
“There has not been a local derby at the u20s group. It gives the local community a real chance to see where Ayr Utd youth players are in terms of where Kilmarnock youth players are so for the community it has a big aspect.
“There is a winter break now and to have that tie to come out of the winter break will keep the players very motivated over the winter.
“As an academy, as a club, we’re delighted with the draw but the players are delighted with the draw and that’s the main thing.”
With the quarter-final being a big game in itself, the derby aspect will only add more spice to the game and David thinks the rivalry will add an extra edge.
He added: “It has to, there will be a good crowd. It is a derby and the under 20s should always try to mirror what the first team is like and play in the environment of the first team.
“If this fixture were to happen with the first team then there would be an extra edge to the game, so yes there will be an extra edge to the game.
“You have to make sure the players conduct themselves appropriately before a big game, motivations is good and enthusiasm is good.
“You don’t really have to motivate the players, they are keen to get on the pitch and prepare well for each game coming up so it’s about making sure they look after themselves properly and guide them in the right way.
“This group of players haven’t experienced this type of game before.
“Every cup game we have played in, we focus on the game we have in front of us. The motivation is getting through to the next round and of course the fact that it is a derby game will bring an extra edge but its about managing the game and getting through the game.”
The tie falls on the same weekend that Ayr’s first team play Queens Park in the Scottish Cup so fans will be hoping for an Ayr United Cup double weekend.