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Under-18s season review for 2016/17

City Under-18s endured and up and down season in the Professional Development League 2 South, ending the season in seventh place.

Led by Trevor Challis and Neil Swift, they battled through a few tough games to finish on a total of 30 points from 28 games.

However, the emphasis isn't solely about results for the club's scholars – the main focus is to progress their footballing ability and help them increase their playing capacity.

They made a solid start to the season, winning six of their first 12 games and overcoming the likes of Cardiff City, Hull City and Coventry City.

Opi Edwards, Cameron Allen and Ricardo Rees all made scoring starts to the season, helping to propel City up to the top end of the table.

Edwards even went on to feature for the Under-23 side on a regular basis throughout the season.

Cameron Allen finished the season as top scorer on seven goals, some of which won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

The Under-18s were drawn against a strong Aston Villa side in the FA Youth Cup third round, falling to a 2-0 defeat early in the competition at Ashton Gate.

Jordan Cox and Jack Clarke did the damage at the back end of the first half and City didn’t find the chance to recover. George Dowling had the best effort for City, almost catching out the visiting keeper from a 35-yard free kick, only to be denied by the woodwork.

Jack Clarke opens the scoring for Aston Villa Under-18s.

This season also saw the inclusion of some of the younger players. Jamie Taylor made his debut for the Under-18s at the age of 14 against Watford in a 0-0 stalemate and has since gone on represent the Welsh U15 squad on a number of occasions.

Other talented youngsters made the step-up to the Under-18s, with Marcus Day featuring regularly alongside Vince Harper. Will Buse, James Taylor and Lochlan Robertson also making appearances across the season – a great chance to further their development. 

Pushing players up past their age group has huge implications for the younger players drive to succeed and progress. To see a clear pathway whether in the U18’s or U23’s helps the younger players refocus and it is then our job as coaches to monitor this progression, ensure players are playing in their correct positions and if the players are being stretched to take them back out and play them in their own age groups.

Trevor Challis - Under-18 Coach

After the turn of the year, the Under-18s won nine out of their 16 fixtures in all competitions, scoring 29 goals in the process. They only lost 3 games during this period and strengthened their defence massively in the second half of the season. This new stability came from a a change in formation, switching from a 3-5-2 to a standard 4-4-2 with defenders Harvey Smith and Aaron Parsons becoming the regular partnership.

Tom Richards popped up with a goal in the last game of the season against Leeds, but was only a consolation as they fell to a 2-1 defeat unable to give the fans a happy send-off for the off-season.