By Andrew Warshaw
It’s not only our senior team who we should congratulate on a magnificent season.
Our academy side deserves enormous credit for having just won their division of the National League U19 Alliance and will host Tonbridge at 1pm tomorrow (Wednesday) in the first knockout phase in attempt to become Champions of Champions.
Anyone who witnessed our friendly last month against Southend under-23 will have been impressed by a raft of young academy players who were given a chance to mix with the first team.
Several of the lesser-known players produced eye-catching performances all over the pitch which certainly augurs well for the future including fullbacks Monty Clarke and Yahke Solomon, diminutive central midfielder James Bone and substitutes Ross Busunda and George Rankin.
The academy side won Division C, as it’s known, on goal difference from Barking on the final day of the season. Basunda, who scored a superb goal in that win over Southend, netted 18 times in as many appearances.
Manager Ahmed Abdulla can’t heap enough praise on his young players who have done the club proud.
Ahmed, who is responsible to academy boss Ian Hart, is convinced some of his kids are good enough to break into the senior team.
“What you saw against Southend was just a glimpse of those who could hold their own in and around the first team,” he said. “It shows we’ve got up and coming players throughout the club. But like the senior team, it’s not about individuals, you need a whole collective team.”
“Incredible as it may sound, we had to win our last five games in seven days to win the title which is unheard of at any level. And we got five clean sheets.”
“The first team having such a good season rubbed off on my boys who wanted some of the same feeling. Lots of the boys go to first-team games and they come back saying how they’d like to do the same.”