A run that’s lasted since December 2015, and has now stretched 80 days. The Aldershot Town Academy have truly found their form of late.
Having not lost a Conference Youth Alliance or Ryman Youth League match since 7 December, the Shots find themselves sitting in a very healthy league position across both leagues as they head into the final few weeks of the season.
The record began when The Shots hosted the Queens Park Rangers Trust in the Conference Youth Alliance. Second year players Brandon Lewington and Elliot Carbis got their names on the score sheet to secure all three points with a 2-1 victory, but who knew then that this would be the start of a tremendous run? A draw away to Basingstoke Town followed the next week, after the side found themselves 1-0 down at half time, but a battling second half secured an away point for Lee Collier’s side as the team broke up for Christmas.
The Academy programme is run on a very tight schedule, with half of the week spent in the classroom, as each player works towards their Level 3 BTEC qualification. With set training hours in place, Academy manager Lee Collier and coach Alan Tate have around eight hours per week to work with players to prepare for the fixtures.
The turn of the year saw some members of the Aldershot Town Academy, along with players based in the London Centre, jet off to Portugal for this season’s winter training camp. Unfortunately, due to the rotten weather back in England, the Academy’s two scheduled League fixtures were postponed, meaning that when the team returned from Portugal two weeks later their unbeaten record remained and no players had missed any matches.
The first competitive fixture of 2016 didn’t come until late January, as the Academy hosted Camberley Town under the lights at Godalming FC in the Ryman Youth West League. A crowd of 30-plus braved the cold January evening to watch a Shots performance which quickly warmed all those watching, as a fantastic first-half display gave Aldershot Town a 4-0 lead going into half time. House, Lewington, Puemo and Hewitt’s first half goals, along with an impressive defensive display, secured the clean sheet and three points to extend the unbeaten run to three.
The following Wednesday saw the return fixture against QPR Trust in the Conference Youth Alliance, and a 3-1 victory completed the double over the West Londoners.
February began with a double Conference Youth Alliance battle, and it was a happy week on the road for The Shots. Goals from Hammani and Brown secured the three in Gosport, and the week’s second victory was secured in Oxford as The Shots came out on top 2-1 in a close-fought battle.
The next two victories came through the Ryman Youth League. One of the longest journeys of the season was made a lot sweeter when The Shots triumphed with a clean sheet and a 1-0 victory against Northwood FC. The next came at home to Ashford in a game of two halves: the first saw The Shots race into a 3-0 lead, and although the second began with another early goal for the hosts, 10-man Ashford were not going down without a fight. Thankfully, the full-time whistle confirmed a Shots victory by a narrow margin of 4-3.
The seventh consecutive win of 2016, and the extension of the unbeaten run to nine games, was secured this week. On Wednesday, the Academy hosted third-placed Andover Town in the Conference Youth Alliance, and The Shots were gifted the lead as an Andover defender turned a cross into his own net. Andover equalised 20 minutes later but The Shots restored their lead within six minutes through Academy top-scorer Ben House.
The decisive goal came after half time, as Napier Brown coolly finished a superb breakaway move to put The Shots 3-1 up, but even though Andover piled on the pressure in the closing stages and pulled another goal back, Aldershot Town secured a 3-2 victory. Now second in the table, the hunt for the title is well and truly underway.
Forthcoming Academy fixtures include:
Friday 26 February, 12pm – Aldershot Town vs Hungerford (Conference)
Monday 29 February, 7.30pm – Aldershot Town vs Staines (Ryman)
Wednesday 2 March, 7.45pm – Wealdstone vs Aldershot Town (Ryman)
Thursday 3 March, 7.45pm – Hayes & Yeading vs Aldershot Town (Ryman)
Monday 7 March, 7.45pm – Camberley Town vs Aldershot Town (Ryman)
Wednesday 9 March, 2pm – Southampton Sparsholt vs Aldershot Town (Conference)
Thursday 10 March, 7.45pm – Aldershot vs Pompey In The Community (Hampshire Midweek Cup, Godalming Town FC)
Friday 11 March, 11am – Andover vs Aldershot Town (Conference)
If you are interested in being part of the #ShotsFuture for season 2016-17, and participating in forthcoming trials, please email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow the Academy’s hunt for silverware on social media, via their Twitter account @ATFCACADEMY and on Facebook at Aldershot Town FC Academy.