Youth Update

New boys enjoyed their introduction to Floodlit League.

Shrivenham Youth ended their debut season in the Wiltshire Senior Floodlit League in second position as the curtain came down prematurely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however manager Glenn Horsell was left feeling positive about his sides efforts and is looking forwards to resuming the challenge again in 2020-21.

Speaking to shrivenhamfc.co.uk he told us:  “It’s a crazy time at the moment and above all, I hope everyone is doing well.

“Looking back at the season, I’d like to thank Chris [Slevin] and Steve [Hendry] for their help, as well as all the Committee members who help out on Game Day’s and I can’t forget all of the parents for their brilliant support too.

“We can safely say that our first season [in the Wiltshire Senior Floodlit League] was a huge success – even though the season was cut short.”

The side managed to complete 12 of their planned 18 league games winning 8, drawing 1 and losing 3 and although third placed Royal Wootton Bassett Town had two games in hand, things were really shaping up for a massively exciting finish in the final straight.

With neighbours Royal Wootton Bassett Town U18s, Chippenham Town U18s and Radstock Town U18s who had also managed to successfully find their feet at the more competitive level, all very much in the mix – there were many twists and turns expected for the final weeks as the chasing pack jostled for position – until the inevitable happened and the season was terminated.

“To technically finish in second place to FC Chippenham Town Youth who were to be fair, the best team in the league – and whom deserved to finish top, is moral boosting for our first campaign,” Glenn continued.

“Admittedly, we still had five games to play and had to face Bassett and Radstock who were also looking to finish second, but as a manager you’re always quietly confident that you’d win those ones – just as their managers would have been as both sides had become far stronger from the first time we had played them, so who knows?!

“With the new signing we made just after Christmas, we had also become a better side so the games would have been a real close battles and although we’ll be losing five of our older lads next season, I hope that they all stay and make the step up to the Development side and eventually push their way in to the First XI.

“We’ll still have a core of our side so with some additions, we’re definitely looking forwards to resuming the challenge next season.”  

Adding to the debate, Radstock U18s manager Ian Lanning told us:  “It was our first season in the league too and we began with a young squad made up of mostly 15 and 16 year olds with the aim of continuing our progression of players towards the clubs First Team [who compete in the Western League].

“With such a young group of players, our aim was for players having the opportunity of 3 seasons playing at this level and creating a natural development rather than going in with a squad for single season success and our first three games saw defeats, although despite that, we completed in each game and only lost by a goal or two where we chased for an equaliser and that was more due to our naivety, rather than being outplayed.”

Radstock who technically finished in fifth place with five wins, 1 draw and 3 defeats from their 9 games were on the same points as Chippenham Town [16] and were undoubtedly still in the hunt and like Shrivenham, were enjoying their new challenge and looking to finish as high up the table as possible and were on an impressive six game unbeaten run

“A draw at Pewsey in awful conditions showed character in coming from behind and as the group of players settled into the step from Youth Leagues they began to control games and two big wins against Calne and then New College, brought a level of confidence which was highlighted in the last minute victory over FC Chippenham in a game where the level of victory could have been greater against an older more experienced opponents who was leading the table without a defeat.

“Further wins over Pewsey and Melksham gave us five consecutive victories and left the squad confident we could realistically compete for a place in the top three of the table.

“Sadly the lockdown and conclusion for us came at the wrong time of the season, but in our planning we will only lose four regular squad members for next season, and plans are already afoot to introduce some new 15-year olds to the squad and hopefully our momentum will continue.

“Looking back, it was pleasing to see that a number of players were given opportunities with our First and Reserve teams but more importantly, our thoughts go out to any family members or friends who have tragically departed us during this pandemic, and thanks go out to the NHS and essential workers during this period.”

Our thanks go out to Ian Lanning for taking the time to contribute thoughts on his sides brilliant campaign, and we wish them the best of luck for the 2020-21 season – it’s certainly set to be another exciting competition.