On Saturday, the young exiles travelled to Cheltenham in the last game of the regular season, before entering a merit league. At this stage in the season the regional leagues are split with the top 5 of the ‘South west’ division will combine with the top 5 of the ‘South east’ division and the bottom 5 of both leagues combining to form the second half of the season.
The starting XI to face Cheltenham was Rhys Davies, Stevie Kaca, Liam Angel, Cairan Smith, Finlay Wood, Lewis Collins, Evan Press, Josh Williams, Joe Hunt, Momodou Touray and Rhys Kavanagh. The bench was made up of 1 scholar; Thomas Savigar and four under 16s; Lucas Murray, Thomas Hillman, Rivel Mardenborough and Jake Clarke.
Cheltenham opened the scoring on 25 minutes with a wonder strike from 30 yards, the post aiding it into the net. The tempo of both teams were halted in the first half, after a nasty collision between Liam Angel and Lucas Murray resulting in both being sent to hospital. 10 minutes of injury time was added to the first half after the prolonged stoppage. In this added time Cheltenham got their second goal from the penalty spot.
At half time, 2 subs were made for the injured centre half’s and a change of shape to a 3-5-2. Within seconds fresh legged Thomas Hillman ghosted past a few Cheltenham players to get into their 18 yard box before being brought down to the referee awarding a penalty, Rhys Kavanagh increased his goal tally by placing it into the side netting. Within 32 minutes after bringing a goal back Cheltenham managed to score 2 goals increasing the score to 4-1 before Lewis Collins managed to capitalise from a cross make it 4-2 to the hosts. As the game went on Cheltenham scored another 2 goals with the game finishing 6-2.
A sour way to finish the last game of a fantastic regular season which has seen the Academy achieve their highest ever league position!