Last week, mere days after I’d completed a preview of Saturday’s last youth team game of the season, it emerged on social media which of the year’s latest youngsters had been offered professional contracts at Meadow Lane. To say there were some surprises in those left by the wayside is no understatement.
Only goalkeeper Harry Andrews and Brad McGowan in central defence were given the opportunity to step up next year, leaving the liked of Jack Golding, Elliot Hodge and Kieran Geldenhuys to chase a football career elsewhere. It’s Geldenhuys’ release in particular which has surprised most.
A player who in his first year was already making the right inroads, he’s the player I’d have considered guaranteed to be earning a new deal this Summer given reviews of his development squad displays on top of those at youth level.
That only two players (as deserved as they are) have been seen fit to be offered contracts, in spite of rave reviews from countless opposition coaches, by a club who only twelve months ago professed to building youths up being such a part of it’s future, is quite startling.
Come Saturday morning’s last game of the season for the youth team, it was a much younger side taking to the field against Hull. Gone, understandably, were the lads not offered new deals. In were some of the players who will next year be first years, accompanying soon to be second years such as Elliot Brown, Colby Bishop and Gino Kelleher.
The partnership of Bishop and Brown is one I spoke of in last week’s write-up. Given the form it’s been in during it’s first few months, the division certainly has plenty to fear with both lads progressing to year two. Yet it was Kelleher who settled matters against Hull in the first half, a tidy rifled finish just inside the area.
His morning wouldn’t last much longer however, substituted shortly after his goal. His replacement Alex Kenlock proved a strong outlet out of defence particularly in the second half, surfing forward Yaya Toure-esque from his own half of the field.
The new lads slotted well into defence. Coached through their first 90 minutes by the vocal Andrews between the posts, there were no nerves from those making the step up.
This was a second win this season against Hull, FA Cup finalists now let’s not forget. On the surface I’d suggest it means the club is doing something right at academy level. We’ve seen players like Curtis Thompson, Haydn Hollis and Greg Tempest play strong roles this season for the first team, but even if the club only considered two to be worthy of making the grade this time around, the crop of talent who will compromise next season’s youth team will certainly be knocking on the door in twelve months time.
The win against Hull kicked off the perfect weekend for Notts. Hours later the first team would serve up quite easily it’s most satisfying afternoon of the season – coming from 2-0 down to beat Port Vale 4-2 – when everything we’ve seen this year would have suggested another hammering was on the cards. To enter the Easter weekend outside of the bottom four is some effort given the desolation felt after defeat at Tranmere.
Four games remain. It might soon be time to sculpt Derry & Abbot’s frames alongside Jimmy & Jack if they pull off what seemed to be the impossible not so long ago – avoiding relegation.
A third win from three followed on Sunday as Notts County Ladies FC ushered in a new era in the club’s history. The first competitive fixture for them was yesterday’s Women’s FA Cup Fifth Round tie at home to Coventry City LFC. A brace of goals from Dunia Susi was enough to put Notts through. A late consolation for the visitors was probably deserved on the face of things – but there was only one team even trying to win this one.
Keeping bodies behind the ball for much of the 90, Coventry were left hoping to win loose balls in Notts’ third for much of the tie, but to little avail. Plying their trade two levels below Notts, the visitors showed plenty of battle but were unable to prevent Susi scoring either side of the half time interval. The quality wasn’t much to speak of from Coventry in all honesty, partly due to their tactics, and it didn’t make for the best first impression for the 309 in attendance.
So not the sort of performance Rick Passmoor would have wanted, particularly ahead of Wednesday evening’s much sterner test in the FA WSL1 opener against Arsenal LFC. But it surely promises at least to a better spectacle than yesterday’s game at least. The bottom line regardless is NCLFC progressing to the sixth round of the Women’s FA Cup. Room for improvement however come mid-week.
Final weekend score: Notts County 7, Everyone Else 3.