It was a historic night in Radcliffe on Wednesday as the NPL Football Academy’s inter league side played it’s inaugural fixture against Oldham Athletic.
The squad contained players from Belper Town, Kidsgrove Athletic, Matlock Town, Mickleover Sports, Radcliffe Borough and Warrington Town, picked by the coaches and NPLFA management staff as reward for their performances over the season.
This was the first time these students had played together and that showed in the first 15 minutes as they were involved in a scrappy affair with neither side being allowed to gain control of the game.
If there was an unfamiliar feel to the team as a whole, the same can not be said of the defence with three out of the back four coming from the recently crowned Champions along with the impressive Corey Bulheller in goal and NPLFA Player of the Year Sam Weston, it would have to take something special to score against that backline.
Golden boot winner Euan Woods was a constant menace in the first half and it was his persistence that gave the NPLFA the advantage before half time. His jinking run into the box caused problems and he was tripped by the Oldham centre half to win a penalty, which he duly stepped up to convert cooly to score the first ever inter league goal.
Changes were made in the second half by the management duo of Nick Chadwick and Keith Southern and it was one of the substitutes who made an impact when Josh Bullock doubled the lead with a brave header to loop over the Oldham goal keeper.
The outcome could have been different with fifteen minutes to go when Bulheller made a smart double save to deny two Oldham players, then two further opportunities from the visitors crept wide of the goal moments later but the NPLFA students saw out the game to record a first victory in the black and white colours.
The next fixture for the squad is against Accrington Stanley on Thursday 19th May, 7pm at Mossley FC.
TEAM: Corey Bulheller (Matlock Town), Jordan Gilhooly (Mickleover Sports), Kieran Cronin (Mickleover Sports), Ryan Rowe (Kidsgrove Athletic) Tyron Buxton (Mickleover Sports), Sam Weston (Belper Town), Scott Taylor (Belper Town), Sam Arnold (Kidsgrove Athletic), Euan Woods (Warrington Town), Aron McGrath (Warrington Town), Adam Leach (Radcliffe Borough).
SUBS: Josh Bullock (Belper Town), Joel Fletcher (Radcliffe Borough – unused), Aron Woodward (Warrington Town), Bradley Allerton (Kidsgrove Athletic), Javari Campbell (Kidsgrove Athletic), Scott Parkinson (Warrington Town), Conah Ward (Mickleover Sports)
MANAGERS: Nick Chadwick (Warrington Town), Keith Southern.
For more pictures of the game please visit facebook.com/NPLFootballAcademy