Saturday see’s the commencement of the new Evo-Stik League season after a long and tough pre-season for all clubs that featured many of our students, past, current and new.
The stand out club once again were Mickleover Sports who’s pre-season consisted of twelve students who participated in training and games. Former students Lewis Belgrave, Finn Davies, Jake Smith, Tyreece Robinson and Jack Walsh all continued their development with the Derbyshire club playing in a number of friendlies against EFL and local non-league teams. Second year students Harley Kozluk and Keldon Gordon were given their first taste of senior action along with new first year student Finn Parkin who played in a number of games at just 16 years of age. Former students from the 2016 alumni Kieran Cronin, Tyron Buxton and Jordan Gilhooly continued their involvement this summer, training with the first time and appearing for the reserves along with 2018 alumni Harry Stevens.
Across Derbyshire and second year Belper Town students Lee Carter and Josh Gregory gained experience training with the first team whilst there has been five junior Gladiators involved throughout July and August at Matlock Town. Former students from the 2018 alumni Harry Wood, Jordan Pierrepont and Billy Whitehead have all signed first team forms and appeared in a number of attractive games against EFL clubs along with second year students Ashton Hall. More recently Ethan Knowles has signed a first team form for the coming season.
Over in Nottinghamshire and the four second year students who made their debuts last season – Tom Hutchinson, Josh Harris, Joe Sheekey and Tom Spice– have once again been involved along with goalkeeper James Hobson, all five will be looking to push on after a successful first year at Carlton Town.
Jessy Bavanganga was the thirty-second student to graduate back in April for Leek Town and he has been involved throughout summer along with second year students Jack Hurd, Liam Robinson and James Reid for their first taste of senior involvement.
Former student Jorge Blemings and second year student Josh Morris made history last year for Sutton Coldfield Town becoming the first debutants from the Academy and they have been involved in training this summer along with second year student Josias Kindala.
At Mossley, the link between the academy and the first team has been forged closer with former students Callum Barrow and Keenan Ali attending first team training along with second year student Jake Dunford. Unfortunately for Keenan he suffered an injury that will keep him out for a few months. Speedy recovery Keenan!
The same can be said at Witton Albion as well as second year students Stan Tatters and Ollie Griffths along former student Owen Wynne have been regularly involved with the first team in training and games against Southport and Vauxhall Motors.
Finally, Ben Harley leads by example again at Oseett United, signing first team forms once again this season and being heavily involved in the newly formed club (merger between Ossett Albion and Ossett Town) pre-season schedule.
As the new season begins, there is a lot of optimism at the NPL Football Academy that there will be more first team debutants to add to the thirty-six that have appeared since September 2014.
A total of thirty-eight students past, current and future have all been involved with their respective first teams this pre-season which is a fantastic achievement for students, coaches and clubs alike and the target of fifty debutants looks to be in sight for this season.
On behalf of everyone at the NPL Football Academy we would like to wish all sixty-four Evo-Stik NPL clubs the very best of luck for the forthcoming eight months.