It was great to see our Elite Development Academy (EDA) sides back in action this October after a long few months away from our beloved EDA training and fixture programme.
A super busy half-term break saw our EDA players compete in various fixtures across the week of half-term including; development centre fixtures VS Luton Town FC, the EuroPaths tournament & finally our in-house festival alongside the EFL play-off final trophy!
Saturday 24th October – EuroPaths (U11 & U12)
First up was the EuroPaths tournament, both players and coaches were so excited at the chance of competing in this tournament as in previous years we had opportunity to play the likes of Manchester City, Fulham, Sevilla, Roma & Lille (to name but a few). This year we battled it out against academy teams Luton Town, Cambridge United & Norwich City, as well as some of the best junior clubs around!
Our Elite Centre U11’s were up first, arriving early on Saturday morning with determination and ambition in their eyes, raring to get going in their first EDA fixture for over 7 months! We were off to a great start in the group stage with two wins from two games and then we fought hard against academy side Luton Town, narrowly losing 1-0 to a penalty and other than that result our boys were unbeaten in the group stage. After qualifying second in their group our U11’s went all the way to a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final which saw a great save from our goalkeeper to progress. We then met Luton Town again, this time it was in the knock-out stage and this time the result went our way, a very calmly dispatched penalty saw us the victors and on to the final! Here we were, in the final of the tournament and facing none other than Norwich City academy. A very tight game between both teams meant that both teams were only able to create a handful of chances, in which neither team could capitalise upon, the final whistle blew, here we go again, penalties! Unfortunately, it was not to be on this occasion, a fantastic save by the Norwich goalkeeper meant that we would collect the runners-up trophy this time, but what a valiant effort from the U11’s, well played lads!
Then it was onto the U12’s tournament that afternoon and after watching the U11’s losing narrowly in the morning the U12’s arrived with fire in their bellies and ready to go one further. Our U12’s were off to a flying start putting two in the net to win their first game. Our U12’s were then defeated in the following game and then went on to draw the next even after dominating the ball and creating a lot of chances. After losing their last group stage game our U12’s managed to scrape through to the quarter-final, where we were drawn against that morning’s rivals Norwich City, a chance for redemption. After a chat with their coaches after the disappointing final group stage game the boys were raring to get going and started superbly against a strong Norwich side. Wycombe created 4 great chances but were only able to be clinical with one of them, 1-0 with 5 minutes to go. Norwich were
now throwing everything they had at us and with minutes to go they were able to create three chances and were ruthless in front of goal, final score 3-1. Norwich again claimed the trophy at the end of the day.
Sunday 25th October – EuroPaths (U8 & U9)
Reenergised and dried off from the day before our coaches were looking forward to letting our U8’s & U9’s off the leash to see what damage they could do in what was to be a day full of goals and excitement!
Our U8’s had some really tough opposition to play against during the group stage, however our goalscoring was superior to most on the day and meant that we were able to win four out of five games during the group stage scoring 14 goals in total. Comfortably through the group meant we were awaiting the draw to see who we were to play in the quarter-final, guess who, Norwich City. A thrilling quarter final came to a close after both teams scored 3 goals each, penalties would decide our fate yet again. A save from the Norwich goalkeeper and a crossbar challenge hit from one of our U8’s meant that this was the end of the tournament for our boys, but another great effort from all of our players, well played lads.
Here we go, once again, this time our U9’s! Our U9’s were on fire starting the first game by showing off their ability to beat players in 1v1 situations and using their fantastic ball manipulation skills to create a bundle of chances. Unfortunately for us only one hit the net in that first game meaning we drew the game 1-1, but then changing into our scoring boots we went on to score 10 goals in the next three games and again comfortably found ourselves progressing through to the quarter-final. This time, we’ve drawn another academy side Cambridge United. An 8 goal thriller in this game, but unfortunately after a courageous effort our boys were knocked out of the tournament by another academy side, 5-3 meant that Cambridge United progressed.
Monday 26th & Wednesday 28th October – Vs Luton Town FC
This October half-term saw us host Luton Town FC, who very kindly agreed to travel to our home Amersham and Wycombe College. Our development centres competed in one-off games from U8-U13’s and then our elite centre went to battle playing a year up from U13-U16. Some outstanding performances throughout the two days meant that the games were super competitive and some great learning could take place both on and off the pitch.
Friday 30th October – In-house Festival
Our in-house festival this October was great fun! It allowed us to include almost all of our players during a fixture during half-term, whether that was against Luton, in the EuroPaths or competing against one another.
We also had the privilege of having access to the EFL League One Play-Off Final trophy, in which all of our players were able to have their individual photographs with the trophy as well as the winning team having a team photo with what they’d played for. A great day overall with some fantastic performances, lots of goals, lots of learning and even more fun!
Saturday 31st October – EuroPaths (U10)
Another EuroPaths festival and another great challenge for our players. This time we had both Barnet and Norwich academy in our group. Our U10’s fought tremendously well throughout the day playing against some top opposition in every team we played on the day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our day and our boys were unable to reach the knock-out stages on this occasion. Our U10’s showed great spirit and determination throughout even when things were tough, so well-done boys!
Our EDA manager Lewis Bloom had this to say about this October half-term’s events; “October has been a fantastic month for us at the EDA, it’s been great to be back and competing in these fixtures and festivals. We saw some outstanding performances throughout this week and performing against academy teams is something that we strive to be doing on a more regular basis, so testing and stretching ourselves in this environment is perfect for our players and coaches alike. We look forward too challenging ourselves with many more in the near future”