I took the two youth team keepers, Brad Wilson and Chris
Hurling, to a professional goalkeepers course at Staffordshire University in the
week (it was a week-long course but we went for two days).
There were around 90 keepers from the Premiership and Football League on the
course, and our two did great!
On the course were the likes of Russell Hoult (WBA), Andy Marshall (Ipswich),
Jussi Jaaskeleinen (Bolton), Richard Wright (Everton), Carl Muggleton (now
Chesterfield ex-Leicester) plus many more familiar names.
The course was run by Fred Barber (ex- Walsall, Peterborough) and Malcolm
Webster (ex-Fulham, Southend, Cambridge United), who the are professional
goalkeeping coaches at Bolton, West Brom and Ipswich.
The photo shows Chris Hurling (left) and Brad Wilson (right) flanked by Malcolm
Webster who, incidentally, told me he played at Desborough in a game to
officially mark the erection of the floodlights!!
It has been a somewhat difficult start to the campaign. Things
didn't start well when, for club disciplinary reasons, we lost centre back David
Haggard and then his partner Ben Asher through injury. We also had striker Adam
Dainty out injured for the opening three games, so we began the campaign with a
very young squad, including a back four which included two 16-year-olds and
15-year-old Sam Northern, all experiencing under-18 football for the first time.
Our opening game was against Newport Pagnell Town at The Waterworks, and,
despite the problems, produced a good performance, although we struggled to make
many chances. It was, therefore, extremely disappointing to lose the game 1-0 to
a last-minute goal, although the lads were admonished afterwards for 'switching
off' at a free-kick.
Preceeding our next game at Rockingham Road against Kettering Town we all
enjoyed a pre-match meal, but I was missing a number of key players due to there
being a reserve game the same night. To go into a game against a side like the
young Poppies without three senior players in goalkeeper Brad Wilson, midfielder
Andreas Sanders and defender Matt White was going to make it extremely tough.
And so it proved, although for the first 25 minutes we produced some excellent
football and, had we managed to take a couple of chances that came our way
during this period, things might well have turned out differently.
In the end, though, after Kettering scored there was no way back and they showed
the advantage of full-time training by running out 6-0 winners, albeit the final
scoreline was a bit hard on our lads.
Considering the result at Kettering then, to manage a goalless draw in our next
game against a very big Kempston Rovers side was encouraging and showed we have
a bit of character in our young side.
Again, our lack of a cutting edge showed, but, conversly we didn't look like
losing either. The only bad note on the night was a serious injury to Adam Toop,
who fell awkwardly after a tackle from behind and had to receive oxygen and
ambulanced to hospital where it was later revealed he had suffered a double
fracture of his left wrist.
In our fourth game we took the lead against Long Buckby through midfielder Ben
Baines and played very well in the opening half.
Quite what I said wrong at half-time I don't know, but we were awful for the
first 25 minutes of the second period and fell 2-1 behind. We threw everything
at Long Buckby after that but again couldn't score.
Injuries and unavailabilities meant a weakened side travelled to Ford Sports for
our fifth game, but we did extremely well against a decent side on a terrific
Ben Baines again gave us a first-half lead, but that was wiped out shortly after
the break, but this time we got hold of the game again and should have won it in
the end, but I would perhaps have settled for a point before the game.
Finally, it is great to see that we have no less than FIVE players currently in
the County Youth squad - goalkeepers Brad Wilson and Chris Hurling, defender Ben
Greasley and midfielders Callum Jenkins and Andreas Sanders.
During the 19 years I have managed at under-18 level I have had many players who
have represented the county, and is actually the second time I have had my two
goalkeepers in the squad at the same time - the last being when I was managing
Rothwell Town and both Tom Smith and Martin Johnson were selected.
However, I am delighted to have both Brad and Chris in the squad and it's a
nice, but difficult job chosing between the two for our games, although I have
always stated how highly I rate Brad Wilson, who is now the regular first choice
for the reserves and has already made his first-team debut.