The latest news from the Hatters' academy
The youth team remain unbeaten this season, (21 games in total) after 3-0 home victories over MK Dons and Cambridge United.
Both games presented totally different psychological challenges for the group, which I am delighted to say they passed and deservedly ran out comfortable winners in both games. Sandwiched in between those two league games was a reserve game away at Cambridge, which involved a few of the youth team squad and, although we were on the end of a very unfortunate 2-1 defeat, I was pleased with the performance of the young players, although I must add that the senior players selected that day were also very professional.
Next up for Paul Driver's Under-18s is the FA Youth Cup third round tie away at Notts County (7pm kick-off) this coming Tuesday. Myself and Kevin Dearden attended Notts’ second round tie against Rochdale, which saw County progress to face us with a 2-1 victory. The game will be a stern test, as Notts are organised and obviously have home advantage, but I am confident that if the boys play to the levels that they have shown for 95 per cent of the season so far, then we have every chance of being in the hat for round four. Fingers and everything else will be crossed on the evening.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to Ciaran Gordon-Stearn. Ciaran is an Under-16 goalkeeper who has recently joined us from Ipswich Town and came to our attention through a close ally of the club Mick Payne and his goalkeeping school ‘The Art of Saving’. Ciaran has settled in well under the watchful eyes of our goalkeeping coaches Kevin Dearden and Albert McCann and we wish him well as he starts his new venture with us.
The Under-11s recently travelled to Germany and had a fantastic trip. We were up against some big European names but played some great stuff to progress through to the Gold Round group stages with the eye-catching result being our 5-3 win over FC Moenchengladbach.
The Gold Round saw us drawn in the same group as Schalke, Mechelen, Hamburg, Borussia Dortmund and PSV Eindhoven. A quite daunting list, and we were right up against it after losing two out of the first three games. However, the boys put on fantastic displays in the final two games to beat Dortmund and PSV 2-1 and send coaches Jordan McCann and Paul Reed into overdrive.
Next up in the quarter-finals were Round 1 Group winners Hannover 96. Having previously beaten us 3-0 they were clear favourites. The boys chose this moment to put in their performance of the tournament and sent Hannover packing with a great 3-0 victory. McCann and Reed were now rightly ecstatic! They then faced local side Armenia Biefield in the semi-final, but unfortunately the efforts in the quarter-final had taken their toll and we were defeated narrowly 3-2 and had to watch on through teary eyes as Hamburg SV lifted the trophy after a 5-4 victory.
The whole experience for the young boys was fantastic and they along with the coaches, Jordan and Paul, should be congratulated for their conduct off the pitch and their play on it. Well done boys!
Enjoy today's game - Come on you Hatters!