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Young Rooks flying high

It was a successful week for two of our youth teams as both recorded positive home results against tough opponents.

On Tuesday evening Tooting and Mitcham’s U21s where the visitors to East Sussex to play Steve Eke’s Development Squad who had the chance to do the double over the Terrors after winning 2-1 at Imperial Fields back in October. While the DS’ good performances haven’t always matched the results this season, Tooting were riding high in 5th place in the Ryman Development South table and would be a real test for the young Rooks. The Lewes starting XI contained nine players who are currently still with or have progressed from the Ryman U18s or Lewes Academy and were also boosted by first teamers Ronnie Conlon, Wilfried Grimaud and Dean Bown who needed valuable game time.

Two well worked goals in 12 minutes at the start of the season half were enough to secure the three vital points. The opener started with fine wing play on the left from Grimaud in the 49th minute and when he worked an opening for young striker Dean Bown, still gaining match fitness after more than a year out injured, he empathically finished from close range.

The points were made safe just after the hour when Academy forward Lucas Tredrea’s pin point cross from the right found Grimaud at the far post and he made no mistake with the header back across Edward Dines in the Terrors’ goal.

It was a great team performance and all 14 players made an excellent contribution to a fine home win. Special mention for the back four of Eman Osei-Asomah, Matt Gunn, Jack Meeres and Jack Troak marshalled the dangerous Tooting front-line of Edwards and Charles-Valentine comfortably which enabled Nathan Stroomberg to secure the DS’ first clean sheet of the season.

Thursday night saw Ryman Youth League leaders Whitehawk visit the Pan, with our second placed Ryman U18s the opponents. Gaffer Alex Walsh and his assistant Dale Hurley have put together a terrific young squad who were unbeaten in four games and breathing down the neck of their table topping visitors.

The fledging Rooks, starting with six U16s and four first years, the youngest line-up of the season, were more than a match for their East Brighton counterparts and most of the large crowd would agree that the 2-2 final score line was fair reflection of the match.

Whitehawk went into the half time break a goal to the good after Adam Carrie long range effort squirmed under ‘keeper Dane Tasker. Five minutes after the restart the home side were level in similar circumstances – Hawks goalie Jordan Hawkins inexplicably fumbled Joel Daly’s 25 yard effort and while he managed to briefly atone for his error by clawing off the line, Ross Barclay (pictured) was on hand to smash the ball home from a few yards out.

Lewis Broughton soon restored the Hawks advantage when he headed home from a right wing corner but the Rooks were always dangerous coming forward and in the 64th minute they regained parity with the goal of the game. Number nine Josh Magrath, making an excellent first start in red and black, freed substitute Elliot Bennett down the right wing and his powerfully hit cross was perfectly placed for 16 year old Barclay to stab home his fourth goal of the season at the back post . Both sides had further chances to win the game but it remained two apiece in what was a excellent advert for youth football.

The Lewes Academy suffered a couple of heavy defeats this week but did secure an important 5-0 win over Tonbridge Angels Academy the previous week, Lucas Tredrea bagging a hat-trick with Jack Barlow and Reece Edwards also on the scoresheet.

DS line up v Tooting & Mitcham: Stroomberg, Osei-Asomah, Troak (c), Conlon (Reynolds 45), Gunn, Meeres, Grimaud (Karl 64), Plummer (Bentley 78), Bown, Kealy, Tredra

Goals: Bown 49, Grimaud 61

U18s line up v Whitehawk: Tasker, Carter, Thompson, Cormack (Bacic 75), Smith (c), Headland, Barclay, McCarthy (Sherin 75), Magrath, Faulkner (Bennett 45), Daly. Subs not used: Parker, Plummer

Goals: Barclay 50, 64