Tuffley Rovers will continue to give the youngsters a chance during pre-season, with the intention of turning them into regular starters this season, player/assistant manager Alex O’Leary has told Severn Sport.
After a youthful Rovers side were defeated by Longlevens in the second semi final of the Severn Sport Shield on Thursday evening, O’Leary was quick to praise the effort and quality that the youngsters possess.
Earlier in the evening we caught up with Severn Sport sponsored player Sam Hill as he looked on from the sidelines. The full back who marshalled the Tuffley Rovers U18s side last term was watching a Tuffley side that started with Josh Claxton & had Jack Ellis on the bench, two players who Hill had managed last season and ear marked for first team football.
Claxton, a striker at U18s level started the game at left centre back of a 3-5-2 formation, nearly scored for Rovers as they chased an equaliser following Myron Turner’s opener for Longlevens.
Ellis, nicknamed Kasper for his physical resemblance to Leicester City and Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, partnered Kieran Alder in the midfield for the second half as Tuffley just fell short in the end.
Alder is a product of Gloucester City U18s and has shown the positive effect that stepping up into the men’s game can have on young players. He and fellow midfielder Cam Williams were two of the players nominated for awards at the Severn Sport End Of Season Awards in May.
Elsewhere on the pitch in claret Tuffley had Kane Winman in goal, Dom Kent, Harry Walker and Claxton in the defence as well as Cam Williams further forward with Alder and Ellis on the bench. With Rovers losing experienced players in Dave Evans and Shayne Bradley to retirement and Shayne Anson to Evesham United, manager Mark Pritchett and his assistant O’Leary are eager to bed the next generation into the Rovers first team.
Sam Hill, who was missing from the line up on Thursday night with a cracked rib filled us in with what to expect from Claxton and Ellis in particular.
We also spoke to him about how pre-season is going for Tuffley, as well as the Severn Sport Shield.
On Saturday afternoon the Severn Sport Shield comes to a climax at Slimbridge’s Thornhill Park with Slimbridge vs Tuffley Rovers facing off in the third place play off (12.30pm kick off), before the final of Gloucester City vs Longlevens (3.30pm kick off) – with the winner taking home the title of the first ever Severn Sport Shield winners.