Academy Manager Steve Avory is pleased with the Under 18s start to their season, having recorded three victories from their opening three fixtures.
The Under 18s side kicked off their Professional Development League campaign with a victory over Millwall, and followed that up with wins over Queens Park Rangers and Ipswich Town.
Speaking before Saturday's win against Ipswich, Avory said: “We’ve had a promising start to the season. Two games into the league programme, and we’ve got two wins. First game, we found ourselves pitched up against Millwall. I can’t ever recall being pitched into that local derby first game of the season, but that’s how it came out this time and we went over there and came out as 2-1 victors. I was very pleased with the performance that day.
“Then we took that onto our second game, against Queens Park Rangers, which was our first home game and we won 3-1. Both games, I thought we were dominant in terms of possession. There were periods of each game where we struggled to turn our possession into goals, and taking the opportunities we created. Overall, we got there in the end and two satisfying performances after a pre-season that you’re never really sure how it’s going to go.”
Going into detail about the youngster’s pre-season, Avory was quick to highlight that it was a new situation for himself, the players, and even the club, saying: “Pre-season was a little bit different, and it ended up being almost eight weeks long. We ended the pre-season with two really demanding games that set us up really well for the league programme.
“We went away to Leicester City and played their Under 19s side which was a tough game, and although we lost that game, I think it was a good learning curve. We also played Arsenal in the final pre-season friendly, and to come back from 3-0 down in the first half to get a draw set us up really well for the first league game at Millwall. A pleasing start.”
Avory picked out a number of youngsters who have made an impressive start to the campaign.
He said: “I think what’s pleased Anthony Hayes and myself the most is, in terms of individuals, is our second-year scholars. For example, our three-man midfield, which is a second-year scholar midfield: Richard Chin, Terrell Agyemang, and Jeremy Santos. Dylan Gavin as the centre-forward. They would be alongside Kai Garande, who are the older players in the team.
“They’ve come through those games particularly well with good performances. It’s important that the second-year scholars do turn in good performances, it shows you’ve got that maturity in your team.”
One player in particular, Dylan Gavin, has caught the eye in recent weeks. The youngster has been amongst the goals during pre-season, and started the league season in goalscoring form too.
“He’s in the goals, and he’s scored some very good goals. Two in particular stick out for me, which are both headers. Very strong headers, which you like to see from centre-forwards.
“Dylan is very much a centre-forward, in terms of playing down the middle. That’s one of the reasons we were keen to recruit a centre-forward, who could link play and be able to impose himself and his height and strength, and get into spaces down the side of defenders. He scored one of those headers against Arsenal, and in that game he scored a hat-trick. The header sticks out because he rises really well, even from a standing jump, and puts plenty of power into it. He did the same against QPR to put us in front in the second half. He’s got some consistency into his performances, and he’s looking fit for the new season.”
The Under 18s continue their Professional Development League campaign on Saturday, October 3rd, as they travel to Bristol City.
Article by Ryan Payne