Friday 13th April 2012 ko 2.00pm
FA Premier Academy League Group C
LEICESTER CITY 2 (Paratore 37 Tambini 71)
Att 52 (h/c)
@ The Training Centre, Middlesex Road, Aylestone, Leicester
No Programme/Team Sheet
For a side in the second tier of adult football and the top one of U18’s the Leicester City Training facility is surprisingly low-key. There’s a large clubhouse which is out-of-bounds to spectators, 4 pitches, and a car park. The only clues to the money sloshing around in the top echelons of the game was the well-tended flower beds, and the helicopter parked at the far end. Perhaps that was there as an implication to the young players.
There were in fact two games taking place, both with Watford as the opposition. Lee and I parked behind the U16’s game which was annoying, as in the midst of a hail storm we’d have been perfectly happy to have watched from the car. Thankfully the weather soon abated and we strolled over to the U18’s pitch. It was simple enough to get the lineups and we settled down to watch the game.
As far as I know there are only two sides in the FA Premier Academy League never to have fielded a side in the adult Premier League, those being Crewe and the MK Dons. The first being recognition of Dario Gradi’s excellent Youth Policy at Gresty Road, the other being Dons, er, purchase of Wimbledon’s league position.
This fixture saw two Championship sides battle it out, and out first observation was the sheer number of foreign players on show. Surely the point of an academy side is to bring on HOME GROWN players? The second was how referee James Thornhill seemed to be controlling the game by a policy of passive aggression. Sadly it became all too clear why he was approaching the game in this manner. That’s because the players were hell-bent on contesting each and every decision. If ever a game was summed up by the phrase “Act like children and I’ll treat you like children,” this was it!
A nice interchange of passes between Rob Parratore and Matt Robinson saw the former do well to fire home to open the scoring, but the game soon got bogged down in dissent, and petty fouls. It would have stayed 1-0 but for an injury to visiting goalkeeper Daniel Wilks. With no specialist keeper on the bench he soldiered on to complete the fixture, but with an injured leg, he was powerless to prevent Louis Tambini’s scrambled effort from trickling over the line with three-quarters of the game gone.
Not great, and I did notice that former Northampton, Bristol Rovers and Oxford United manager Ian Atkins made his excuses and left at half time. He’d learned everything he needed to at that point. Sadly, so had everyone else, in a game where only one participant had shown any great common sense, the referee, who amazingly had managed to avoid booking anyone. Such things are oft in short supply.