Both the under 15s and under 16s have qualified for their respective finals of the South West Academies Floodlit Cup. The competition, currently running as a pilot, saw EFL Academies from across the South West take part with the aim to try to provide an opportunity for players in these age groups to play in a competitive environment.
After a round robin group which involved playing Cheltenham, Swindon and Newport County, both squads topped their respective groups without loss.
“The competition is one that has created by the Academies themselves as we felt as a group there was a gap in the existing games program for the players as they progress towards the u18s program and beyond. The current Academy fixture list is non-competitive with no results being recorded to ensure the focus is on the development of the players and not the outcome of the match” commented Academy Manager Jonathan Henderson.
“However, we felt that the opportunity to play in a format where the players are exposed to situations when the result matters was a vital part of the players’ learning towards being a professional player”
“We have seen a vast difference in the approach the players have to these games and we personally feel it has been a good developmental experience for our players to be involved in these games”
“All the games have also been played midweek at non-league grounds so this has also provided a different environment for the players to play in front of a small crowd and under floodlights”
The u15s will face either AFC Bournemouth or Plymouth in their final to be played in the New Year, whilst the U16s will now face Exeter in their final to be played at either the Memorial Stadium or St James’ Park in December.