Under-21 Season Review

Thursday 5 May 2016 09:26

Defeat in their final match of the season saw Peter Grant’s side finish ninth in the Barclays U21 Premier League Division 2 table.

It was a campaign of mixed results for the team – which was often predominantly made up of Under-18 players – as they registered nine wins, five draws, and 10 defeats across all competitions in 2015/16.

“I’ve been very pleased,” Grant said in review. “It’s difficult when you look at the league table to say it’s been a successful season. But if you’re judging success on the way the boys have played, I’m very happy with the way the season has gone.

“This season we’ve had 17-year-olds starting 90 per cent of the games. We’ve had 16-year-olds play for us in some cases and we’ve had eight Under-18s start for us pretty much every game.

“The season as a whole has been a success but the only time I’ve been disappointed was towards the end when we could have finished in the Play-Offs.

“You want to be in the top league but it’s been a competitive league this season and I think the boys have benefitted from that.”

Ryheem Sheckleford and captain Josh Smile led the way in terms of appearances with 20 and 19, respectively, while Luca de la Torre (17), Shane Elworthy (16), Ian Pino Soler (16) and Stephen Humphrys (15) were also regulars.

The main goal threat over the course of the campaign came from Humphrys, 18, and midfielder Mattias Kait, who’s still 17, as the pair each netted five times at Under-21 level.

Humphrys has also been in good form for the Under-18s, while Kait has received international recognition this season and travelled with the First Team for their match at Burnley’s Turf Moor – a trip which saw him given the squad number 47.

Josh Walker chipped in with two braces throughout the campaign, one of which came on his debut at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium, while de la Torre, Jordan Evans, Dean O’Halloran, Cauley Woodrow and George Williams all netted twice.

Some of the goals scored have been quite superb, too. Alexander Kačaniklić’s brilliant strike in the Under-21 Premier League Cup win at Colchester United claimed the Club’s December Goal of the Month award, while Evans’ dipping 35-yard free-kick in a 2-0 win over West Ham United at Upton Park came second in October’s vote.