It was a chilly weekend, writes Jason Brindley, but one full of fun and football for The New Saints FC Academy.
On Friday evening, our U14s hosted Port Vale at Park Hall Stadium. It was a really good contest, with both teams playing the right way and causing each other problems.
Port Vale had a couple of outstanding players and it was a good challenge for our young Saints, who have developed well as a team this season.
We thank Port Vale for travelling over, late on a Friday evening, and look forward to playing them again later this season.
On Saturday morning, our U15s hosted Stoke RTC. Stoke RTC play in the Junior Premier League and have associations with Stoke City. They always have good players at all age groups.
Our 15s are another group who have come on a lot this season, developing the social aspect of their game superbly. The game was of good standard and we thank Stoke for travelling over.
Our U10/11/13 age groups travelled across to play Crewe. The 10s and 11s games were excellent standard, with players overcoming various problems and challenges the opposition provided.
Our 13s showed good understanding of recent training topics and produced a strong performance.
Our U8s and U9s completed their final Futsal contact at Deeside. All Welsh Academies play Futsal over the winter months of December and January. We really enjoy the programme and it’s something different for our players.
Our U16s hosted Isle of Man FA to wrap up Saturday, with a 7:30pm KO. It’s great that we have the facilities to hold multiple fixtures on the same day. TNS were actually one of the first clubs in the UK to install a 3G pitch – a forward thinking move. We have never looked back and now lots follow our model. The 16s produced an excellent performance.
On Sunday, we hosted Isle of Man U11s and U12s on a fresh and frosty morning at the home of the Welsh champions. It was an early start as well, with our visitors having to catch an early Ferry, meaning an 8:45am KO. You couldn’t tell though, so were the energy levels of our players.
I was talking to some of the subs in the U11s game and challenging them on their observations and how they linked into recent training topics. I had some great answers.
It’s great to see and hear players showing understanding of what we are trying to teach and how it applies into a game.
Both fixtures were excellent. We thank Isle of Man for travelling. They had some brilliant little players and we hope they enjoyed their visit, including watching our first team vs Connah’s Quay on the Saturday evening.
Our U13s completed their final Futsal Festival of the season, again at Deeside Leisure Centre. It was a really well run event, with lots of fixtures.
Some teams have different playing styles to others, so even in these short games, you have to adapt to their strengths while still applying our principles.
To conclude, it was a fantastic weekend of football for our Academy and club as a whole. We have now passed the halfway mark of our Academy programme this season.
If you look at the amount of minutes played and the amount of games, it’s superb. We are well ahead of ourselves. While we love the sessions and teachings, at the end of the day, the players want to play.
It’s good that we can offer so many games against a variety of different opposition.
I’m looking forward to meetings over the next couple of weeks to continue to improve the infrastructure behind the scenes, which in turn, will help our provision and support of the individual player and collective group. Exciting times lie ahead.