Just got back from watching this. It was a miserable and cold day, but what else are Saturday mornings for? We fielded an incredibly young team (most of our lads were 15/16) and consequently lost 2-0 to Middlesborough, who were a team full of men compared to our bunch. A good team too even without the size/age advantage - favourites to win the Academy League as it stands - so there was no shame in this defeat. In fact, half of our eligible and best under 18s players were quite literally sat next to me. Garcia, Humphries, Tosin, Nemane, Kongolo all to my right in their tracksuits. It's likely all will be involved on Monday night with the EDS. Spotted Vieira mooching about, keenly watching the young lads involved. Even if those Marseille rumours are true, he's certainly still got his eyes very much on the ball. Nice to see Humphries and Tosin side by side even in the stands - proper partnership that. I can only imagine they finish each other's sentences too...
|Tough day for Sam Tattum...|
The team was a mixed one. Some relatively new to me. We had Albinson in goal, Callum Bullock at right back, Sam Tattum and Charlie Oliver in the middle and a young lad called Demeaco Duhaney on the left - I had to ask their fellow academy product Aaron Nemane sat next me who he was. Turns out he's an English lad who's usually with the u16s. Apparently young, very, and he's usually a right back according to someone else I asked, but the coaches insist on switching positions with players to improve them. Quite a common thing I've noticed at this level. In the second half him and Bullock switched sides, but despite improving both understandably struggled a little still. Only young though and they will improve. We had a midfield three of Wood, Will Patching and Celina. Dilrosun on the left, Fernandes on the right and Buckley through the middle. In the second half Tom Dele-Bashiru and Lukas Nmecha came on as Buckley, who started up top, and Celina picked up knocks.
To be honest, we didn't really do anything. We couldn't really create or cut through against a much more confident Middlesbrough team who capitalised on our naivety in possession going ahead after ten minutes - we tried to passing it out but it wasn't really happening. There were sporadic moments of quality from the two wide men, Fernandes and Dilrosun, and we had some nice spells of possession but we were generally toothless. Buckley, and later on Nmecha, ran about a lot but they had scraps to feed off. Celina couldn't really get into his stride and found himself a lot deeper than normal, whereas Wood burst forward with pace and power a few times, striding through their midfield impressively, but he kept undoing all his good work by then giving it away cheaply, and often. Patching floated about looking quite elegant, reminding me of ex-academy product Emyr Huws at times, but he did little really. He's another who was promoted from our u16s team for this who will surely learn a lot from this. Tattum was the captain at CB - usually a RB, but i can see why they're trying him there. He's a committed, earnest little player who will gain from the physicality needed in that position. I wouldn't think he'd ever make it in the centre though and he's definitely a full back in my opinion. It's a waste of his energy playing him there.
In general it was a poor performance and one to be expected given the circumstances, but as ever I enjoyed the experience of the game and being in and around the academy. It really is a beautiful place and we're lucky to have it. I took this little panorama of inside the academy at half time where the coffee and tea bit is. It really is an incredible complex. It's a world away from Platt Lane and I get the feeling something special is brewing inside these fences.