Updated: Feb 18
This week our scholars have been in Manchester on an academy residential, competing in two very special showcase games.
A 19 man squad was selected to play against Salford City U18s and Chesterfield FC U23s in what was two very different and challenging games. There was a break in competition for our scholars in London and Leicester in the ECFA Cat One with our coaching staff taking full advantage of this to give players a great learning experience.
First up was a very entertaining game vs Salford City with the 'ammies' fielding two of our graduates, Nathan Freckleton and Ethan Smith. Nathan signed a scholarship with the Manchester club in early August and Ethan signed a pre-scholarship just a few weeks ago as he prepares for life with Salford City full-time from September.
The game started at a great pace and it was FSA who created the first few chances but failed to convert. On 21 minutes however it was first blood to Salford, as a lobbed freekick caused confusion in the FSA penalty area and Salford City pounced from 6 yards heading it past goalkeeper, Jaidon Regis. FSA looked sharp but failed to equalise as chances went begging for Aaron Nuttall and Dominic Fisher. Seven Changes were made at half-time and a change in shape. Again it was FSA who started the half better but had to be wary of a few great counter attack and patterns from Salford City. The second goal of the game came on a 62nd minute as Joe Kerins latched onto a great through ball and slotted home past the Salford City goalkeeper, then delivering his trademark backflip celebration. Both teams looked to find the next goal but it was Salford City who took full advantage of a penalty with 20 minutes to go making it 2-1 to the hosts who managed to see the game out.
After a night of recovery it was onto Chesterfield FC with an early kick off against a very strong and physical U23 side. William Warren and Charley Kilburn were both made unavailable for the game after picking up knocks against Salford City. The game was played at a fantastic venue owned by nonleague team Staveley Miners FC. FSA controlled the tempo and majority of the ball in the opening minutes of the game but found themselves 1-0 down by another penalty kick as Jakob El-Hage brought down the Chesterfield striker who smashed home from the spot. FSA dominated possession but couldn’t find any clear chances in the final phase and were made to pay as Chesterfield made it 3-0 before half-time after two mistakes. Halftime again brought many changes for FSA, who again started brightly with plenty of possession but failed to convert on two great chances, both Joe Kerins and Dominic Dominic were denied. The only goal in the second half fell for Chesterfield FC as they jumped on a loose back pass and calmly finished past the FSA goalkeeper making it 4-0 at the final whistle.
After the second game we caught up with Academy director Mark Smith on his thoughts of the time spent up north and the importance of the trip:
"it’s been a great few days and a fantastic learning opportunity for our players. In recent weeks they have had some great results in league competition however at times it hasn’t challenged their development enough. As we enter the final stages of the season which could include cup finals and possibly qualifying for the nationals, it was important for us to take players out of their comfort zones and get them prepared for what is to come. We received fantastic feedback from both opposition teams and not only was the trip beneficial for the academy, it has also opened up to an incredible opportunities for two of our players who will now go on trial and look to gain contracts with the respective clubs. Our staff put a lot of hard work into the preparation, travel and time spent with the players and I want to thank them for that too, I want to also thank our academy founders, who supported the trip and our movement every minute while we have been away."
You can keep up-to-date with how our scholars get on in the remaining few league games and how the individuals selected get on in their trials with the professional clubs via our social media channels.