City u18s got their pre-season off to a winning start on Monday night, with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Hallam FC at Sandygate Road, the world’s oldest football ground.
Goals in either half from Brazilian trialist Renan Silva and Austrian midfielder Sinan Bytqi were enough to give Adam Sadler’s side a deserved victory against a physically strong Hallam FC team.
City’s team was drawn almost exclusively from last year’s under-16s with a couple of second-year scholars the older heads in there for good measure.
“We played against men so there was always going to be a physical challenge but the lads dealt with it really well - we stuck to our principles, moved the ball around well and built up from the back to create chances,“ said Sadler who has been in charge of the under-18s since August 2011.
“There was a bit of a slope on the pitch which was another challenge we had to work around but I was pleased by the effort on the night.”
The former head of Plymouth's Centre of Excellence believes that preparations are well on course for another successful season at Platt Lane.
“The team has been in full-time training for the last couple of weeks but it was good to get out and play a match - it was a really good game and we definitely had the right opponent on the night.”
The former Newcastle United coach pointed to Marcos Lopes and George Evans’ recent call-ups for the first-team training camp in Austria that the work of the Academy is bearing fruit.
“Having worked with Marcos Lopes and George Evans last year, I know what good players they are – for them to make the step is fantastic,” enthused the under-18s boss.
“It’s a great message to the first-year scholars recently signing their contracts that the opportunities with the first team are there and that they can maximise their opportunities at this Academy.”
Links between the under-18s and the Elite Development Squad are set to be tighter than ever in the coming season, with players overlapping between the two squads. Adam believes that these ties are important for the development of his squad.
“Stepping up to the EDS gives them a fantastic opportunity to get that bit closer to the first team group and with the inception of the new u21 Reserve League, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for that in the coming year.”
The squad fly out to Portugal on Monday for a training camp where they will continue preparations for the FA Premier Academy League season with a couple of friendlies against local opposition.