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College Derby - 12 September

Following their mid week FA Vase victory, a first for the college, Mark Teasdale is hoping that his New College Academy youngsters will have an extra spring in their step when they take on rival academy outfit Cirencester Town Development this weekend.

“This Saturday is our local derby against Cirencester and it’s a big one for us." comments Teasdale. "But we’re going to need to put out two sides this weekend because the South West Counties season gets started and we’ve got a side going down to Weymouth – a few players may drop down but we’ll have to see what’s available to us.”

Central defender Ben Wells returns for Saturday’s trip to rivals Cirencester after missing Tuesday’s Vase victory through work commitments.

New College History - 11 September

For some, the fact New College beat Fleet Spurs 4-2 after extra-time last night would have meant very little. In reality, the academy’s students were writing their own little piece of history.

Sam Morshead on Link Sport writes, two goals apiece from Max Slinn and Christy Millar propelled New College through the qualifying round of the FA Vase for the first time ever, setting up a meeting with Thame United in the next stage and helping the club achieve one of its targets which, half a decade ago, might have seemed that little bit grand.

For a team competing at (Uhlsport) Hellenic League level, the college are – perhaps obviously – incredibly inexperienced collectively. With no member of the squad over the age of 20, they are paired against sides who can boast dozens of seasons of non-league know-how amongst their ranks.

However, under the direction of Ian Howell and his coaching staff, the club have grown from strength to strength and now, with last night’s success, they can strike another notch on their belt – progression in a senior FA competition. No wonder, then, that their players couldn’t get enough of their achievements on social media on Tuesday evening.

For Howell, it was a proud moment and an important next step in the college’s blueprint for the future. He told Link Sport: “We’ve had a big development plan over the last four or five years to try to take us towards being able, as a football club but under the College entity gain entry into the senior competitions through the FA. Getting into the FA Vase is one of the first targets we set out from a College perspective. We had a tough game last year and didn’t get through the first qualifying round but we’ve gone past that this year. We equipped ourselves unbelievably well against a big, strong, physical side and for their own personal development hopefully they can look back on setting themselves a little bit of history. Hopefully we can progress now and have a good game in the next round against Thame United and maybe even go one step further. I don’t think there are many academy or college teams who have progressed in the national tiers of these competitions. I know Team Bath and Loughborough have progressed in the FA Cup but they’re more senior students, from 19 to 25, in those clubs. We had 16-year-olds playing last night.”

Having been held to a draw in the original tie at home on Saturday, Howell conceded that he thought his team’s chances of progression might have gone when they made the trip to Fleet on Tuesday. “It’s some achievement. I thought Saturday might have been our opportunity – at home, on a decent pitch – but it was a tight game in the end. We had to play the last 20 minutes of extra time with 10 men but came through that,” he said. “It was a tough place to go in midweek with physical players but we scored some really good goals at important times.”

The club’s latest success can be considered a success not only for New College but for football in the town (Swindon) in general. The thriving set-up plays in three separate league competitions on Saturdays, as well as cups and Wednesday afternoon under 18 and under 20 structures, with a squad of more than 50 members.

However, they pick up the best of the talent from junior clubs locally and develop them further, rather than relying on the offshoots of local pro sides, as Howell explained: “The pleasing part about our programme is we don’t get a huge intake from Swindon Town or Oxford United. Occasionally we might have some players who have been released from the Centre of Excellence at 14 or 15 and they’ve gone back into local football and played in the North Wilts League.

“It shows our recruitment comes from the local clubs – Stratton Juniors, Ferndale, Supermarine. Across the whole town it’s great they can see a pathway or progression and a number of our lads come out of the programme and go to America or go ply their trade at a more senior non-league level and make some money out of the game. It shows that you don’t always have to be at a professional club to break into a programme and move onto a good level.”


Welcome Back Boss - 1 September

rob hopkins new college academyRob Hopkins is hoping that he can welcome boss Mark Teasdale back to the New College dugout having secured some cup progress for the student side.

The Swindon Advertiser reports, Hopkins stepped down as College chief in March due to his work commitments, taking over the running of the club’s U18 side, but has found himself back in the managerial hotseat in recent weeks. With Teasdale away on holiday and assistant Matt Cosnett currently waylaid following surgery, Hopkins is set to take charge of College’s Floodlit Cup clash with Burnham Reserves on Wednesday and next weekend’s FA Vase meeting with Fleet Spurs.

“The U18 league hasn’t started yet, so they needed me to come in and look after the team whilst Mark was away getting a sun tan,” said Hopkins (pictured) . “We’ve got some important cup games coming up and I’m going to be in charge for those, so hopefully I can welcome back Mark and tell him that we’ve had some good results and performances – he comes back halfway through the FA Vase match and I imagine that he’ll pop along during it. We were in the FA Vase for the first time last year and I think it was a bit of a shock to us but we know what to expect this time around.”

College suffered a 3-1 defeat at Tuffley Rovers in the Hellenic League Division One West last Saturday, despite Christy Millar giving the visitors an early lead. Alex Baker was sent off for bringing down an opponent in the area, with Rovers netting the equaliser from the penalty spot, which put the hosts on their way to taking all three points.

But Hopkins was delighted with his youngsters’ second half efforts with ten men. “Unfortunately, Alex’s sending off was a red card. They scored the penalty, then got two more before half-time,” he said. “But after that, the players worked their proverbial socks off. They ran themselves into the ground and the Tuffley management said to us after the game that they couldn’t believe that we’d done that with ten men. Hopefully the lads can take heart from that and take it into the next game.”


FA Competitions Target - 8 August

ian howell hellenic footballNew College Academy director Ian Howell has set his sights on the One West side qualifying for the FA Cup next season.

The student side missed out on getting into the world’s most famous domestic knock-out cup competition this term. When the new campaign gets underway tomorrow, Howell wants the youngsters, who will be managed by Mark Teasdale this term, to make a push for a finish in the top eight of Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One West.

“This is going to be a big year for us at the college,” Howell said. “We have got three sides running and for the boys in the Hellenic side, we have set them a few targets. Obviously we want to improve on last year, get a few more points on the board, and hopefully that will be enough to qualify for the FA Cup next season. It is a big deal to be in the FA Youth Cup, but now we want to establish ourselves in the FA Cup and the FA Vase. The points target to get into the competition changes each year but I think that if we can finish in the top eight then that should be enough - that is the challenge that the boys have.”

With New College fielding students, Howell admits that the players are going to have to deal with the severe physical demands of the Hellenic League as they make the transition from youth to senior football. “If the boys are confident in what they are doing then we will be fine,” Howell said. “If we can start the season well and play with confidence then we can do well. We shouldn’t have any problems with the fitness side of things and if we can manage the boys properly, we should have a good balance. Of course there are going to be sides that it is going to be tough against - teams like Purton have put together a strong squad.”

Howell admits that the challenge for his team of New College coaches begins when the under 17 and under 18 sides get under way sometime in September. “At the moment we have got a big squad and we’ve been back training since July,” he said. “Our recruitment this summer has been good. The Hellenic team will be made up mainly of third years - it will be up to the rest to try and force their way into the side.”


College Squad Developing - 24 July

New College coach Matt Cosnett says in the Swindon Advertiser that he has been pleased with how his new look squad is developing this summer.

The South Martson-based side have been back in for pre-season training for a week now and the Uhlsport Hellenic League squad have already claimed their first friendly win against Longwell Green, who play in the Western League Premier Division, with Josh Croucher’s strike the only goal of the game. While the majority of the players that featured were from the college’s third year set-up, several members - Ryan Morgan, Ollie Hunt, Kai Robinson and Antonio Gerrish - from the Under 18s side also featured.

“The first year players that we have got this year are doing really well,” Cosnett (pictured) said. “They have been back a week now and we are already stepping it up. Four of the lads, who are just 16, played in the Hellenic League side’s friendly against Longwell Green and did well. Longwell are basically last season’s Tytherington Rocks (who won Hellenic League Division One West) as the manager and a lot of the players have moved across. So it was a very good performance and we are happy with how it all went.”

New College are also preparing their Under 18s for their first venture into the FA Youth Cup. The side, who playing the South West Counties League, will travel to either Bristol Rovers or Gloucester City on the week commencing September 22. “It is great that we are in the FA Youth Cup, but it is a very tough tie for us,” Cosnett said.

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