A great run of results since the New Year has seen Stevenage’s Under-18s cement their place in Merit League 1 for the second half of the season, whilst breaking records along the way.
In finishing joint-second in the Youth Alliance South-East division after 22 games, Robbie O’Keefe’s youngsters have achieved the Under-18s’ highest ever points tally, scored more goals than ever before and conceded less than ever too.
A goalless draw against Luton Town was followed by a 3-0 win over Northampton and a 3-2 win over Southend United. It now means Boro will play in Merit League 1 against the best sides in the South-East and South-West division.
Reflecting first on the Luton game, Academy Manager Robbie O’Keefe told us, “We went into that game knowing that if we won, we’d beat our best ever points tally and if we avoided defeat we’d keep Luton below us, which is something we’d never achieved in the past.
“It was a really good 0-0, a typical local derby which was feisty. We had a number of Under-16s who featured in this game and acquitted themselves really well. We could have won it in the last three minutes when Andronicos Georgiou went on a solo run and bent one with his left-foot which hit the bottom of the post. We were fully deserving of a point, if not all three.
“Under-16 Marcus Goldbourne came on and did fantastically well and earned himself a scholarship straight after the game. Darren was then watching with Leon and they were both very impressed with him."
Robbie continued, “We then followed that up on the Saturday with a home game against Northampton, knowing that a win would put us in Merit League 1 and we were very comfortable 3-0 winners. There were two good goals from Andronicos and one from Claudio Ofosu. Andronicos’ second goal was a fantastic finish into the top corner, cutting inside from the right and finishing. It was a good solid performance and that summed up our season in that we were a tight group that worked hard for each other.
“What was really nice was we then went to Southend on the Tuesday, who hadn’t lost since October in the league and won 3-2. They were second at the time so we moved level on points with them with that win. We were again very good value for the 3-2 – it sounds tight but in terms of possession we dominated the game and we were really pleased with the performance. There was another goal for Andronicos, a trialist and also David Etheridge.
“It was pleasing for the boys to finish the Youth Alliance season in that way. They put in three really good performances on the spin in the space of seven days, all watched by Darren and he was very complimentary about how they played.
“Our points total is the highest it’s ever been, our league position is the highest it’s ever been, we’ve scored more goals than ever and conceded less goals than ever. So we’re definitely going in the right direction.”
“We go into Merit League 1 now, against all the top teams from the southern divisions and we’re definitely in it to win it. We feel like we’re the form team and feel like we’re on the up.”
Read more youth news from the Academy in our next two home programmes against Wycombe (Sat 11th February) and Cheltenham (Tues 14th February). Tickets for those games can be purchased now at www.borotickets.co.uk.