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15th November 2016 was a ‘Terrific Tuesday’ for the NPL Football Academy with several milestones achieved on the same night by our students and coaches at two of our clubs.

Matlock Town travelled to Bedworth United and gave debuts to 17 year students Jordan Pierrepoint and Jordan Lee as they became the 15th and 16th football graduates of the NPLFA respectively. Both students have been involved at several times this season and finally made their first team bow playing alongside former student Ben Edgson who also started the game and their Academy coach Jamie Yates who scored the last minute winner.

Lee who has gained attention online the last few weeks with some fantastic goals going viral was a proud man making his first senior start “It was a proud moment and something i want to keep doing and being involved in. The step between Academy and first team football is massive. It is a much higher tempo and more physical which is why playing reserve team football here at Matlock is good for young players to help you prepare for the first team. I hope to be regularyy involved in the first team at Matlock for this season and in the long term become a regular starter or play as high a level as I can”

Lee’s fellow Academy student Jordan Pierrepont echoed his comments, the young goalkeeper has been involved with the first team since impressing at one of the trials last year and finally made his competitive debut for the club “As Jordan says, it’s much more physical and the tempo is much higher. It was an amazing experience and i feel lucky to be selected in the starting eleven. My aspirations in the short term is to be involved with the first team and have a good Academy season which i am enjoying. Long term i would like to be a regular starter and play as high as i can”

Elsewhere in Derbyshire Mickleover Sports took the short trip to Belper Town in the same competition where Lewis Belgrave made history once again. Not only has the second year midfielder collected a number of milestones already by being Sport’s first football graduate and the club’s youngest ever captain, he now has the first ever goal scored by a student accolade when his strike in the 90th minute took the game to extra-time where they eventually lost on penalties. Belgrave commented “It was a great moment to get my first goal for the club. It means a lot to me because i have been waiting a long time for it and to finally get it felt amazing. My coach and manager John McGrath has done a lot for me and when i scored, i felt like i had repaid him for all the great things he has done for me and giving me an opportunity”

Also playing in the game was Academy coaches John McGrath and Andy Dales and the former gave another debut to one of his students when he introduced 16 year old striker Jake Dickinson as a late substitute, the 17th NPLFA student overall to play for the senior side since 2014. The young striker has been in fine form this season leading the goalscoring charts up to Match Week Six and has been involved on the bench for several games already this season and made his senior bow which will hopefully be the first of many for Mickleover Sports.

An NPLFA spokesman was delighted with the news “Tuesday was one of the most enjoybale days we have had at the NPL Football Academy and there has been many since 2014. Firstly we announced a new club to join our programme in Carlton Town and we are excited to expand into Nottingham and to do so with a very ambitious and welcoming club. In the evening we were then checking Twitter and were delighted to see so many of our students involved either making their debuts or continuing their senior involvement and when Jamie Yates scored a last minute penalty and minutes later Lewis Belgrave scored the first senior goal by an NPLFA player it topped off what was a fantastic night for the programme.

“Both Matlock and Mickleover have really bought in to what an Academy is all about and their faith in their young students is now starting to pay off. Of course having first team players and managers involved in the Academy helps that transition which is so difficult for any 16/17 year old but there is so much more talent coming through at all our clubs that i don’t think Tuesday will be a one off.”

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