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INTERVIEW: Rich Stevens Reflects On U18s Recent Form

The Under-18s have picked up form in recent weeks...

5 December 2017

The under-18s have had a change of fortune in recent weeks, as they look to move away from bottom of the table in the Professional Developmental League South.

Three consecutive wins have meant Andy Crabtree’s side have moved within one point of Colchester United U18s and also has been aided by a run in the FA Youth Cup.

The Sky Blues overcame Accrington Stanley and Lincoln City U18s away from home in the competition to set up a Third Round tie against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Academy Manager, Richard Stevens believes the wins in the Youth Cup have helped to aid the resurgence in league form.

He said: “It’s been good after a difficult start, where it was well documented that we lost ten on the spin in the league but the boys have done well.

“They have worked hard over the last three or four weeks and we’re now five wins in six going into an exciting game against Aston Villa in the Youth Cup.

“So it’s been good, the players have reacted well and Andy Crabtree has worked hard with the team and we’ve had a few injuries, so a few of the young school boys have come in and we’ve had some really good results.

“I think winning games of football, when you’ve lost so many on the spin, it does play on players’ minds and they felt they couldn’t see the next win coming.

“But, they got the result away at Lincoln in the Youth Cup, which was tight and that took us into a league game against Watford when we were winning and we felt we should’ve won game, but we conceded three quick goals and it knocked the stuffing out of us.

“We then had another Youth Cup game against Accrington Stanley and to be honest we didn’t play too well, but we stuck at it and saw the game out and then on the back of that, we’ve beat Cardiff, QPR and Colchester and the three wins we’ve been great.”

Elsewhere, last year’s under-18s side have recently enjoyed the move from youth football to first team football, with many being given debuts already.

Stevens is delighted to see so many be given an opportunity, as well as the lads who had already made the move from the club’s academy over the years.

He added: “We lost to Dunkirk in the first round of the Youth Cup last year which was a horrible result and I didn’t feel we should be going out at that level of the youth cup.

“Yet five of those boys have played first team football this year;  Chris Camwell, Jordan Thompson, Tom Bayliss, Jordan Ponticelli and Kyle Finn.

“So five of that night have gone on to play first team and when they get the opportunity they have to take it and they have to go and showcase themselves and I think they’ve done that.

“Jordan Shipley and Jordan Ponticelli have scored goals this season and elsewhere, Tom Bayliss came off the bench and didn’t look out of place ad he looked comfortable and looked like he could handle it physically, so we’ve always managed to get players around that level and when they get to the first team it’s up to them to see how far they can go.”

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