Haverhill Rovers youth squad’s Sudbury triumph big progress, according to club
Nothing can more clearly show the impact of Haverhill Rovers’ focus on their youth set-up than Sunday’s 2-1 win over AFC Sudbury in the Suffolk Boys’ U13 Cup, according to football development manager Peter Betts.
The Eastern Junior Alliance U13 Rovers team triumphed over the three-time U13 county cup reigning champions – Sudbury were last defeated in the competition in September 2015 – to progress to the quarter finals.
Goals from Elijah Brandt and Archie Davis were enough to see off one of AFC Sudbury’s famed academy sides on The New Croft’s main grass pitch, despite a late fightback from their visitors.
Rovers are next set to host Cambridge City Youth U13 in the league on Sunday (2pm).
Alongside the introduction of an academy linked to Leeds United and strong performances of the youth sides in the Cambridge & District Colts League, Betts could not be happier with the club’s development.
“It’s a great result and the boys have done really well,” he said. “Rhys (Shulver) has done a great job with them as head coach and is putting in so much time and effort.
“And the biggest thing is that it shows we have stepped up to Sudbury’s level.
“They have led the way and teams have had to get better. We have had to close the gap – two years ago they were so much better than everyone.
“But rather than grumble, we got our heads down and worked on improving and this result shows the huge strides we have made in the youth set-up.
“We couldn’t have beaten them this time two years ago, no way, so we are nearly there in terms of meeting their level. And we’re top of the league as well.
“It’s a good time to be getting our academy up and running.”
He said the football education programme, which would be run in partnership with The Higher Sports Academy and Leeds, had held its first trial session for over-16 players and was preparing for the second, on December 20.
* Future academy players could well come from the youth teams currently playing at The New Croft, such as the U13 EJA side or the U14 Blues in the Stanley division.
Chesterton Eagles U14 ended the U14 Blue’s run in the League Cup on Saturday via a 3-1 home defeat, despite Rovers scoring first.
Jack Winner converted a first half penalty following a goalmouth scramble that resulted in a handball from the Chesterton defence.
But a tough day saw them unable to replicate the 3-1 win of the weekend earlier as Chesterton found three unanswered scores.
They will look to get back on winning form on Saturday, at home to Plantation Y U14 Green (10am).