AFC R&D – Academy and Development Review (March 2016)

With both cup/shield games alongside league matches again, March was another busy month for the AFC Rushden & Diamonds academy sides.
Following a brilliant performance against Coventry City at the end of February, the U12 side only had one game in the JPL in March as they travelled to Hampshire to play Ormer FC in the quarter-final of the cup. In what was a close encounter, it was the home side that progressed through to the semi-finals. Despite the disappointment, the young Diamonds showed good character and will undoubtedly bounce back to continue their development.
The U13 side continued their impressive development with some really positive performances throughout March. With a cup quarter-final on the horizon against Birmingham coming up in April, there will be all to play for following a tight encounter in the league.
Both the U12 and U13 squads were given the opportunity to travel to Sheffield United this month to play against their academy sides. We were very grateful for the top-class facilities and hospitality provided by our hosts on the day.  Both games were fantastic to watch with the U12 side winning their game 2-1 and the U13 side were narrowly defeated 3-2, as both squads did themselves and the club proud.
The U12 academy squad outside the main entrance at the Sheffield Utd Academy

The U13 Academy squad warming up prior to their game at the Sheffield Utd Academy
The U14 side travelled to Bristol to play for a place in the quarter-finals of the shield and came across a strong BIC side, eventually losing out 3-1. They then returned to action against Coventry City and won 5-4 after putting in their best performance of the season, reversing their recent run of defeats. 
The U15 side also had a fruitful March and put in some fantastic performances. They go into their upcoming quarter-final game against FC Wilts with confidence that they can progress to the semi-finals.
The U16 side had the busiest March with three league games and continued to show great progress in their development. Transferring their knowledge into games, they squeezed past a strong Birmingham City side on penalties to progress in to the quarter-finals of the JPL shield where they will face either FC Wilts or Cheltenham for a semi-final place.
The development squads have been training hard during March and have fixtures coming up in April, May and June which they can look forward to.
We will keep you updated with how all the squads are doing and what’s going on with these academy and development updates posted monthly.
Academy fixtures, results and subsequent match reports can be found on the Junior Premier League website here: You will also find a link to these pages from the academy section of the AFC R&D website here. You can find the initial academy season preview from last Autumn here.