TOWN Juniors had a special full training session on the Galpharm pitch in readiness for tonight's FA Youth Cup first round clash with Rochdale (7.00).
Officials hope for a big turn-out at the Stadium to cheer on the Under 18s, who will travel to either Boston United or Northampton in the second round should they get through.
Squad members James Hand, Joe Shaw, Gavin Huxall and Tom Clarke have played at the Galpharm before, but most of the first-year Academy students will be making their home bow - hence yesterday's chance to acclimatise on the first-team pitch.
"Our biggest fear is that one or two of them might `freeze' so we thought a full session on the pitch would be ideal preparation," said Academy director Gerry Murphy.
"We did some shadow work, shape and set pieces and it really did give the lads a feel for the Stadium surroundings, so we are hoping they will go out tonight and express themselves in exactly the same way they would if we were playing up at Storthes Hall."
Coach John Dungworth is without the injured David Walls, so young Adam Wilson will play at full-back after scoring for the Academy in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough.
Dungworth's side, who report at 5.45pm, will be favourites for the tie and will hope to justify that tag before extra time and penalties are needed.
"In the past we would have gone for a pre-match meal and had all the lads together, but we found it was increasing the pressure for some of them, so we are just treating this like any other game," explained Murphy.
"The lads can be at home, eat when it suits them and rest up and, hopefully, they will come in ready to give of their best.
"We've got quite a few Under 16 lads in the side, including our goalkeeper Simon Eastwood, and it's a big occasion for all of them which we hope they will enjoy to the full.
"Knowing the lads, though, they will only enjoy it if they play well and win and, in the FA Youth Cup, I've always gone with the opposite philosophy to our normal style - in the Cup it's the result that's all-important, not the performance.
"Our intention tonight will be to provide both a good display and a victory for the fans who come down and, hopefully, there will be a few hundred of them to encourage the lads along.
"The lads themselves are well prepared and they want to do themselves justice on the big stage.
"From the moment they get to Under 15 level, move into the Under 16s and then progress to become Academy students, part of their education is getting a winning mentality.
"Hopefully that will show itself tonight and the lads can look forward to another type of experience in the second round."
Town: Eastwood, Wilson, Clarke, Beck, Evans, Hiley, Shaw, Racchi, Hand, Huxall, Biddle. Subs from: Berrett, Smithies, Skarz, Melcher, Oakley, Atkins, Broadbent.