We finished the Barclays Under-18 Premier League contest with no less than six Under-16s players on the pitch – with debuts given to left-back Jaden Brown, attacker Keanan Bennetts and goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman.
Bennetts also got himself on the scoresheet, heading home our third goal following penalties from Marcus Edwards and Kazaiah Sterling as we secured a 3-0 victory at the Seagulls’ training ground.
Naturally pleased to see the younger players making an impact, Under-18s Coach Kieran reserved praise for the likes of Josh Onomah and Kyle Walker-Peters for the example they set to their junior team-mates.
“It was a really pleasing day,” he reflected. “We went into the game with a mix of Under-16s players and some quite experienced Under-18s players like Josh and Kyle, meaning we had a really good blend in the team.
“Obviously Josh made his first team debut recently and Kyle has been playing with the Under-21s, but it’s still important for them to come back into the Under-18s every once in a while and set the standard in terms of their own individual performances and for the younger players coming in. They both did that really well today, I was pleased with their application and with the example they set.
“We had a number of second years who have played quite a few games recently and for the likes of Anton Walkes and Luke Amos to have played their fourth game in nine days and to have performed very well in all of them is a credit to them. They gave us a real defensive solidity that gave some of the young Under-16s attackers a platform to play from.”
All three of our goals arrived in the second half as we bounced back from two consecutive Barclays Under-18 Premier League defeats, with Kieran pleased to see the boys’ hard work rewarded.
“In the first half, against the wind and in tough conditions, we battled and defended quite well and played some really good football without creating a lot of chances,” he said.
“In the second half the quality of some of our football was excellent, we created numerous opportunities and obviously to get the three goals from three of the six Under-16s players who finished the game was really good.”