Reaction from Stourport as Academy Coach hails ‘strongest’ link between first team and youngsters…
By Matty Paddock - 14/07/2021
Posted 3 weeks ago
ACADEMY Coach Luke Astley has praised the connection between the first team and the club’s younger players in the wake of Tuesday night’s game at Stourport.
A young Harriers XI featuring Academy players and trialists were narrowly beaten 2-1 at Walshes Meadow.
Despite coming up against vastly superior opposition in respect of experience, the visitors remained in the game throughout and impressed with their organisation in the second half especially.
Speaking after the match, Astley was delighted with how the lads dealt with the varying challenges from the night.
“It was great all round, especially for their learning,” he commented.
“We had a lot of 16- and 17-year-olds and at this time of year, the first game of pre-season is about getting minutes in and being physically fit.
“For me, having been with this group quite a bit last year and with quite a few having come through our U16s programme, it’s also about developing tactically as well.
“There were different challenges tonight, balls coming into the box from wide areas, balls coming in behind and having to defend set pieces.
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“They’re developing, growing and learning things about themselves and the game.
“Against men tonight, that was great for them.”
Astley has been a staple part of the Academy for over a decade and is well placed to discuss the join between the Aggborough first team and its younger ranks.
He says it’s the best it has ever been, thanks in part to the investment in the players by boss Russ Penn and Assistant Jimmy O’Connor, both of whom watched closely from the stands at Stourport.
“It has been superb,” he added. “It’s the best it has been in the ten or 11 years I’ve been here to be honest.
“It is the strongest link I have seen, and the actually take an interest in players.
“They know them on a first name basis, what their strongest position is, and their second and third.
“It is really good at the moment, a really good vibe about the place.”