We have now been back in training for 8 weeks and have four pre-season games under our belts so far, with another away at Newhaven FC on Tuesday 30th August. Our results have been varied but the performances have been excellent thus far.
We started with a 7-0 victory away at Lingfield, which was an attacking masterclass, especially as some boys were playing together (and even meeting!) for the first time.
Our next two games were against older opposition, which was something we deliberately wanted to do this year in our closed season. Our first against Lancing U21 saw us lose 1-0 despite dominating the game from start to finish. We looked suspect from set-pieces, but that is to be expected in only our second pre-season game.
Our next game came against the men’s Sussex Sunday County Champions, Real Rosehill. Although losing 2-1, we created enough chances to hit double figures, something which is really positive for the boys. Something which is important to take from those games is that all three goals have been conceded on the break. It’s crucial that we work on this prior to our first game of the season.
Our most recent warm-up game was against Hassocks last Sunday (21st Aug). Hassocks were not at full strength and unfortunately only had 11 players to our 15-man squad for the day. We ran out 8-0 winners but it was important for us to get a win under our belts prior to our final game against Newhaven U21s. Dom Hemblade grabbed 3, Billy Barker, Fintan Walsh (x2), George Loder and Adam Carrie completed the rout.
We have retained a large number of last year’s squad, based on us spreading the age within the squad between U16, U17 and U18s. Unfortunately we have had a few boys move on due to their age; Marco Lincoln (Lancing FC), James Seltzer (long-term injury), Bradley Donaldson (Lancing FC), Connor Martin (Newhaven FC), Thomas Devine-McAuley (University), Dan Grimble, Anton Pawluk. We have also seen the promotion of Lucas Rodrigues to the Hawks first team.
Lucas played for the youth team for three seasons, scoring 23 goals in all competitions last term, as well as being a crucial part of the ESFA National Cup winning Sussex Schools FA team in May. Our captain for the forthcoming season is another member of the SSFA National Cup winning squad, Luke Emberson. Luke played every minute of every game for Sussex Schools FA U18s last season and every minute of all but one game for Whitehawk. He trained with the first team on a handful of occasions last year and it will likely happen again this season.
Due to our first game of the season being rearranged, our first game is now at home to Burgess Hill Town in the FA Youth Cup on Monday 5th September. Obviously this competition is massive for everybody involved and we have the ‘small’ task of not just beating last year’s league champions, but also having to win another three games to get to the first round proper!
I really hope that as many of you as possible can get down to The Enclosed Ground to support us this season. We have hopefully assembled our strongest ever squad for the forthcoming season and it would be great if 1) we can achieve some real success and 2) you can be down there to enjoy that success with the boys.
Please follow all of our progress on Twitter via @WFCU18s.