The Sturridge Academy played their first friendly match in over a month when they took on a full strength Barnet FC under 18 side at the Hive in London on Tuesday afternoon.
The last time the two sides met was in the pre-season, with the Bees running out 2 – 1 winners
Right from the starting whistle the Academy were on the front foot and should have been in front on 2 minutes. A direct 40 yard ball from T’Sharne Gallimore was perfectly played to Jason Dwumfuo, who at pace rounded the keeper just inside the Bees box. But the home keeper did well to push Dwumfuo wide and his shot on the angle from the left didn’t have enough power on it and was cleared off the line by an awake Bees defender.
Leo Sergiou the Academy keeper then tipped a 25 yard drive over the bar and the game was up and running with chances at both ends in the space of 60 seconds.
The Academy were doing well, better than well to be fair and giving as good as they got over the next 15 minutes as play settled down.
On 18 minutes a Bees corner was cleared by George Carter-Knight. The ball came to Adam Khan on the halfway line and his excellent through ball found Dwumfuo on an angled run. Dwumfuo easily outpaced his marker and getting to the edge of the Barnet box looked to place the ball inside the left had upright, but this time the keeper saved well with his feet. Good save or poor finish that was the question to be asked.
Khan was then tripped over in the box which looked for all money a penalty, but the referee waved play on at the 20 minute mark, before a good shot from Max Workman stung the hands of the home keeper 2 minutes later.
The game was being played very much in the Barnet half with the Academy on top across the pitch. At the back for the Yellows skipper Michael Hagen was solid as a rock and was well supported by fellow centre-back Kesse Appiah. Full-backs Carter-Knight on the left and Joshua on the right were also playing very well and not only keeping a tight rein on the home forwards but starting many of the Academy attacking moves.
Finally on 29 minutes the Academy got the just rewards for an excellent display, when Carter-Knight swung over a perfect corner and Dwumfuo just got his outstretched foot to the ball in the 6 yard box. The keeper made a excellent low down reflex save but jogging on the spot Workman lashed the ball home near the back post for a well deserved lead.
The Bees then got the first card of the match when for some reason a forward on the edge of the Academy box jumped up and ‘volleyballed’ the ball forward, in an action that can only be described as a total brain fade.
Barnet had only in the first 45 minutes produced 1 shot on goal and were basically second in every aspect of the match with the Academy well and truly good money for their lead.
As the whistle sounded to start the second half the game started where it stopped at the break.
A corner on 48 minutes from Workman into the mix, fell to Appiah past the backpost but his loopy header at goal was comfortable saved.
6 minutes later a long ball from Appiah released Khan who from 25 yards out and with the keeper bearing down lifted the ball over the him, but also just over the bar.
But Khan didn’t have to wait long because on 58 minutes he had his goal and the second for the Academy.
It was from another Workman corner from the left and this time Appiah saw his header well saved. The ball came to Gallimore at the backpost and he directed his header back across goal and Khan blasted the ball home from 6 yards out.
4 minutes later and Workman could have well and truly sealed the match when after a excellent run from Khan down the left, he cut inside and squared the ball to Workman and his low drive was well saved again but a busy Bees keeper.
Across the middle of the pitch Academy midfielders were everywhere. Gallimore was excellent as was Jordan Watson-Brown and Vic Naranjo
Barnet then had their only shot of the half on target when from a free-kick 23 yards out Sergiou easily saved it standing up palming the ball down to himself standing up.
A number of changes were then made over the next 30 minutes but this didn’t stop the one sided nature of the contest.
Mitchell Smith one of the subs came on and looked bright, firstly on the right of a midfield diamond and then as a number 10. And it was Smith after moving past a defender was brought down 25 yards out that another sub Calvin Camara forced a top finger tip save from the resulting free.
At the final whistle it was a outstanding performance from every single player that represented the Academy, and although there is still room for improvement it was without a terrific result.
Goals: Workman (29), Khan (58)
Man of the Match: Michael Hagan
STURRIDGE AC BARNET U18
2 GOALS 0
7 SHOTS ON TARGET 2
6 SHOTS OFF TARGET 4
11 FREES FOR 10
7 CORNERS 3
4 OFFSIDE 3
0 YELLOW CARDS 1
0 RED CARDS 0