Stevenage U18s picked up their first league win on Saturday morning with a 2-1 victory over Crawley Town at Shephalbury.
Fejiri Okenabirhie continued his fine run of goalscoring form with both goals – one in each half – as Darren Sarll’s men saw off Mark Beard’s Crawley to collect all three points.
Darren told us, “I always say to the lads, enjoy Monday to Friday and win on Saturday. They did that however in the first half we didn’t work hard enough for my liking, although we took the lead. The second half was much better, albeit very end to end and there were some good performances.
“Fejiri has scored 10 goals this season, which includes friendlies although he didn’t play much of pre-season! He’s scored in every league game so far and his attitude and work ethic has been very, very good. Tyler Reading, our new goalkeeper from Norwich, was outstanding. Harold Joseph replicated his form that he finished last season with and Jamie Carey-Morrell is as solid as anyone at this level and was again a very good performer.
“We also had players from our U15 and U16 squads playing in the U18s which again shows we’re doing something right further down the system to be producing players who are doing well for us. Lee Northfield was involved in the Southend game and is a very good, intelligent footballer. He needs to develop physically, which takes time, but he’s an intelligent man with and without the ball. Jamie came on against AFC Wimbledon last weekend and I thought he did magnificently. He has a great intensity for a 14 year old, he certainly doesn’t look 14 when he tackles and he’s done very very well.
“The team performance will get better as the team gets stronger. Dale Gorman was injured for this one, Ben Kennedy was away with the Northern Ireland U17s, Ryan Towner is injured and Dan Udoh’s only had a few days training after returning from international duty with Nigeria.”
Midfielder Kennedy scored his first international goal last week for Northern Ireland U17s and Darren was quick to praise the youngster: “The reports back from the Ireland camp were that Ben was excellent and his attitude was great, which we know all about from his time here. He’s settled in terrifically here with the group, he’s got a good understanding of the game and both he and Dale know as youth international footballers you have to go away from time to time. So despite the travelling over the past month or so they’ve settled in well.”
The youngsters have no official fixture next weekend due to cup competitions but have an U21 behind-closed-doors friendly against Luton tomorrow and then an internal game on Saturday. Darren comments, “Whilst it’s not ideal (to not have a fixture) it allows us to get players fit and back into the swing of things, allows us to look at our U16s and maybe gives us a chance to give a few players who’ve featured in every game so far a rest ahead of what is sure to be a great competitive game against Watford the weekend after.”
Boro team v Crawley: Tyler Reading, Jimmy Hartley (Jamie Silvestre 45), Jamie Carey-Morrell, Ryan Johnson, Ross Millard (Lee Northfield 45), George Casey, Louis-Michel Yamfam, Rodhell Gordon, Harold Joseph, Fejiri Okenabirhie, Alex Cathline (Dan Udoh 75)
Sub not used: Kavel Patel (GK)