Academy Manager Gregg Broughton blogs on the 2015-16 season

OUR Under-18s kicked off their FA Youth Cup campaign on Wednesday with a good 3-1 win over Hull City.

Hull are a similar sized club to us, they’ve been in the Premier League for a number of recent years, but when you travel to a lower category Academy as theirs is, you’re really on a hiding to nothing.

Everybody expects you to go there and win. The key thing for us was that we were able to match their work rate, and we then knew that our players’ ability would then come through. That in the end was how it was.

We didn’t ride their passage of play just before half-time, and that allowed them to get the equaliser, but when they had a ten-minute spell in the second half, we were able to stay in the game. We then scored two very good goals towards the end.

We have to go back to what our strategy was at the beginning of the season. We decided that the Under-21s strategy this year was going to be heavily loan-based. We’ve had seven of the group out on loan this season, and that has necessitated the promotion of Under-18s and even Under-16s to the Under-21s.

That means our young players have had exposure in stadiums against opposition in high-tempo games. When it came to it on Wednesday, it was no surprise that the backbone of the team really shone. The boys who had been consistently in that Under-21s group – Joe Crowe, Todd Cantwell, Benny Ashley-Seal, Glenn Middleton – really took the game by the scruff of the neck.

We have big expectations for individuals within the group, but we have to remind ourselves that it is still a very young group. We had five first-years and one U16 starting against Hull.

The age-group is a year away from fully maturing at this level, however there are boys who are also in their second year, so this is their opportunity. If they can keep adding the leadership that they gave last night, then the group can do well.

A huge thanks to the 1,914 people who braved the rain and wind to support our Under-21s at Carrow Road on Monday – the backing worked as we won 7-2!

It was a very strange game of football. It was probably the oldest Under-21s team we’ve ever put out, and that was actually to do with the fact that we wanted to go full strength for the Under-18s game on Wednesday.

I think that seniority shone through against Southampton, who struggled defensively at times – as we have been guilty of in previous games. Every time they gave us an opportunity, we punished them.

Having said that, key individuals stepped up. Cameron King scored a fantastic header, and Jamar Loza has quite rightly been all over the press this week because to score five in a game at any level deserves plaudits.

There was a host of Football League scouts at the game. Jamar deserves another opportunity out on loan. He is a confidence player – the moment he scored his goal against Manchester United last week, you noticed a change in him. He was walking around what seemed two feet taller, and smiling all the time!

He’s just expanded on that, and everything he touched went right for him the other night. It’s now about him continuing to do that to make sure the first team staff are fully aware of him, and also to ensure that other teams are aware of him so that come January when the loan window reopens, he can get another loan experience. I believe he will score goals in the Football League.

We rightly focus at the top end of the Academy, but at the bottom end I’ve seen a lot of our Under-9s to Under-12s over recent weeks.

The three staff working with those age groups – Ali Colman, Adrian Forbes and Greg Crane – are doing a tremendous job.

I watched our Under-12s against Ipswich on Sunday, and the players and coaches put in an excellent performance. The coaches are doing a really good job to make sure that we’ve got a continuous stream of players coming through over the next few years.

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