THE Academy gained experience of playing in a stadium by facing Brighton and Hove Albion under 18s and Oxford United under 23s at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, as part of VAR testing.
The Young Brewers were beaten 3-1 by Brighton, with midfielder Ciaran Gilligan netting for Albion.
The under 18s then claimed a major scalp by facing an Oxford under 23s side containing ex-Derby County man Jamie Hanson and earning a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Manny Shittu equaliser after a quick breakaway.
Academy Head of Goalkeeping Paul Reynolds said: “It was a very good experience for everybody involved. I am glad that we were invited to be a part of VAR testing and played the two games. Brighton were a very good side, it was a 50 minute game and I am really pleased for Ciaran Gilligan to get a goal.
“Oxford put out a very strong under 23s team and we had our backs to the wall a little bit. We showed resilience and purpose in the way that we played. They scored early but we stuck to the plan and with a few seconds left, Manny Shittu scored after a great through ball from Ethan Vale.
“Some of the lads that haven’t been playing got minutes that they needed. All in all, it was a really good day.”
Reynolds also believes that the experience will be a memorable one for the Young Brewers
He said: “To even walk in to the player’s entrance, into that dressing room and then out onto the pitch and look around, it can sometimes play on a player’s mind. We were definitely more comfortable in the second game. For the lads to perform like that in that environment, it is one for the memory banks.”
VAR was used during the 2018 World Cup, as well as in the FA Cup last season. Reynolds said that the testing done on the day did not hinder the flow of the football.
“They VAR tested all of the goals that were scored. We did not really notice it and it did not affect anything that was going on. The game flowed seamlessly.”
The under 18s are back in Youth Alliance action on Saturday when they travel to Chesterfield to face the Spireites.
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