Category: Academy

Our Academy… Our Success

by Peter Scherer

It’s with a great deal of pride that Mickleover FC can look back over it’s past and current achievements with the Clubs own Academy.

Formed in 2014 initially, they were 2015,16 & 17 ESPFA Champions and with John McGrath becoming player manager, he signed former Rams and England Under 16,17 & 19 International Pablo Mills for the start of the 2026/17 season.

Initially as a player, Mills had also been coaching at Derby University and soon became McGrath’s right-hand man with the Academy.

One of the first successes for the new partnership was the development of versatile defender Morgan Williams. Having been released from the Nottingham Forest Juniors, he came to Mickleover in September 2016 and two years later he was snapped up by Coventry City.

He made his first team debut in 2018 against Arsenal Under 21’sin the EFL Cup and after five more appearances, he was loaned to Yeovil Town, before making his move permanent. He is now riding high as part of the Yeovil team topping the National League South.

In 20/21 they had won the ESPFA Midlands Championship which put them in a play-off with Runcorn Linnets and Chesham Utd for the National title, with all games played at the neutral Rushall Olympic ground.

Mickleover proved to be a class apart and destroyed the opposition, scoring eight goals in each game. Beating Runcorn 8-0 and Chesham 8-1.

A number of the players, despite their age, had managed to break into the first team squad, Bobby Battisson, Louis Pennington, Josh Satchwell, Will Robinson, Fin Barker, Ben Lewin, Kai Moore, George Atwal and Jake Edge-Lucas.

Current vice-captain, but on field captain during Ryan Wilson’s absence, Ethan Mann emerged in the same year, but a year younger. But he not only became a squad member, but has been a first choice centre back this season and much of last too.

We have always excelled ourselves in developing young talent and with a genuine clear pathway to the first team, plus the exceptional coaching of Pablo Mills and Andy Dales. May our list of Academy Graduates continue to grow.

said gaffer John McGrath. 

The list of success goes on, as Academy goalkeeping graduates Tom Smith and the late Fin Bowen both made one appearance each, along with Ben Horleston.

With former Sports star Andy Dales returning to the club, he joined Mills and McGrath as the Academy severed it’s connections with the ESPFA and are now a stand-alone.

As undefeated Champions of their Division in last years FA Youth Development League, with 11 wins and one draw, they played Southern Champions West Ham Foundation at Oxford City’s ground, winning 1-0 with a Mann header.

So far this season they have three wins from three, and also came through the FA Youth Cup Qualifying rounds, before going out to League One Northampton Town.

Following in Ethan Mann’s footsteps, Brandon Ferron, Fin Ryder, Sam Tomlinson, Zac Sandhu, Harry Atwal and Toby Smith are all now members of the first team squad and the door is open for the next generation to follow too.

The Academy has come a long way, a lot of hard work and time has gone into this process. Me, Macca and Dalesy decided to have a development team, which in my opinion rivals some of the best Academies around, and our aim is to produce players that can compete in our first team and also be sold on. Morgan Williams is the benchmark for what players can achieve.

said Mills.

But my best moment coaching the lads was definitely winning the ESPFA Regional and National Championships and losing only one game that season. We dominated the Nationals and a lot of other coaches were complimentary on how well organised and coached the lads were.

We not only want to produce good players, but we also want well disciplined young men, that can go out in the world with the tools needed to succeed

he concluded.


Sports’ Lads Exit Youth Cup With Heads Held High

by Peter Scherer

It was the biggest game in our recent Academy history, as Mickleover faced League One Northampton Town’s youngsters, in the first round proper of the FA Youth Cup.

Starting line-up: 1-Josh Maher 2-Mason Hoult 3-Brandon Ferron 4-Toby Smith 5-Jared Cholerton 6- Zac Sandhu 7-Liam Carter 8-Harry Atwal 9-Sam Tomlinson 10-Fin Ryder 11-Josh Carter. Subs: Luis Mas-Hall, Josh Bull, Josh Powell, Hamza, Mason Tudgay.

The rain was falling but spirits were high for kick-off, but keeper Maher was soon tested, making a diving save to his left from a Reuben Wyatt volley, after just three minutes.

Mickleover earned a free kick after seven minutes, as gradually they began to grow in confidence and began to push forward themselves, with Tomlinson and Ryder combining in the first strong attack 10 minutes in.

Hoult began to find space on the right overlap, which gave  the home defence some respite from the Northampton attack.

But after 15 minutes the visitors went close again, following a header from a short corner, with a combination of Maher and the crossbar keeping it all square.

Only two minutes later the home defence was breached, when Wyatt put Harry Guess through to slot home 0-1.

The pressure had begun to build again, with Mickleover having gone off the boil. There were chances going begging for Northampton, but the shots were failing to reach the target nor test Maher.

Liam Carter had a half chance when the ball fell to him, but his shot was wide of the left-hand post.

34 minutes gone and our visitors doubled their advantage from a break. Wyatt squared the ball for James Owen to run onto, but Maher saved the first effort at close range, only for a lucky hit on his left post to rebound into the goal, 0-2, as it remained as the half time whistle went. 

Only two minutes into the second half Northampton fired another shot well over the bar, before Mickleover skipper Atwal got a shot in too, but t was an easy pick-up for the Marc Bald the visiting keeper.

From the hour mark the Mickleover lads seemed to gain in confidence again and began to move the ball around more effectively. 

Northampton continued to create a few chances without being seriously threatening, as Cholerton and Sandhu looked fairly solid. The defence allowed Ferron to use his pace more on the left and a series of promising attacks followed.

Josh Carter had a good effort over the bar, but despite their hard work, neither Tomlinson nor Ryder were able to break the visitors defence.

It was a defeat, but a good strong team effort, which bodes well for the future for all concerned.


Come & Support Our Future This Thursday

By Peter Scherer

This Thursday at 7.45 Mickleover’s Youth team host League One’s Northampton Town in the first-round proper of the FA Youth Cup.

It will be the Cobblers first game in this years tournament, but for Mickleover it’s their fifth, having already knocked out Leicester Nirvana. Alfreton Town, Stamford and Bedworth, scoring 23 goals and conceding just two.

The success of the team has already seen Fin Ryder, Brandon Ferron and Sam Tomlinson step up to the first team squad too.

Northampton’s best year in the Youth Cup was in 2028/19 when they reached the third round before being knocked out by Arsenal. But over the years their youth scheme had produced the likes of Brentford’s England striker Ivan Toney, Chelsea midfielder Carney Chukwuemkea, defender Max Dyche, son of Everton manager Sean, Dundee Utd winger Glenn Middleton, striker Fraser Hornby, who plays for Darmstadt in the Bundesliga and current first team midfielder Shaun McWilliams.

Kick off at the Don Amott Arena is 7.45 and it’s just £5 on the gate, not to be missed!!

Magnificent Seven For Sports Youth

by Peter Scherer

It was back into FA Youth Cup action last night for Mickleover, following their 8-0 win at home to Leicester Nirvana. Visitors Alfreton Town were expected to be considerably sterner opposition, but it was another dominant win, 7-0 to Sports.

Starting line-up: 1-Josh Maher 2-Mason Hoult 3-Brandon Ferron 4-Toby Smith 5-Jared Cholerton 6-Zac Sandhu 7-Josh Powell 8-Harry Atwal 9-Sam Tomlinson 10-Fin Ryder 11-Mason Tudgay. 

It was a good start from Mickleover on a chilly evening, but Alfreton showed early pace, looking for breaks out of defence.

Ferron had an early run into the box and then after five minutes another forceful run down the left found Powell, but his shot was just wide of the right-hand post.

Hoult began to use the overlap well too and his run four minutes later almost set Tomlinson free in the middle. But Alfreton broke swiftly but were intercepted on the edge of the box by a timely challenge from skipper Atwal.

Maher had to make his first save after 11 minutes, before a long ball out of defence almost found Tomlinson again, but the advancing keeper came to the rescue for the visitors.

Another Ferron run and following cross then found Powell again, but his shot was pulled wide again, just beyond the right- hand post.

Alfreton were being pegged back more and more by Mickleover and Tudgay was very unlucky not to open the scoring after 16 minutes. He jinked inside from the left, hit a great shot which hit the far post, and with the goalkeeper well beaten, the ball rolled along the goal line and out of danger.

The Alfreton defence had become casual and were failing to clear the ball, which invited a further barrage from Tomlinson and Ryder, which mixed with the pace of Powell and Tudgay and the overlapping Hoult and Ferron, continued to cause problems.

Tudgay set up Tomlinson after 19 minutes, but his shot was deflected out for a corner. But as the corner came in from the right, it was Sandhu that got a foot to it and it was 1-0.

Sports youngsters were looking more organised and eager than the visitors and further goals were looking inevitable. Hoult broke out following an Alfreton corner, then Ryder slipped the ball inside for Smith to have a long shot just over the bar.

But just after the half hour mark, Tudgay lost possession on the half-way line, and Alfreton made another break. Maher was forced to charge off his line, and there were appeals for handball out of the area, before the ball went for a corner.

Alfreton’s keeper was forced into a diving save from Tomlinson after 37 minutes, but only three minutes later, the young striker picked up the ball in the middle again, powering home a distance shot into the roof of the net. 2-0.

Tudgay went close again after 43 minutes, when after good work from Hoult on the right, a crossfield ball to Ferron preceded a tidy lay-off to Tudgay, whose effort was tipped away by the keeper.

In time added on Tomlinson got his second and Mickleover’s third, crashing a solo effort into the roof of the net again, to end the half 3-0 up.

The first half had been dominant for Mickleover, but they almost re-defined the word in the second 45, with Alfreton rarely breaking out of their own half.

Ferron almost scored only two minutes into the second period, cutting in from his own run down the left before shooting, while Smith picked up the rebound trying a long distance effort.

A 53rd minute run from Ferron caused panic in the defence again, with Tudgay hitting the post a minute later. But as the ball bounced free, at least three Sports players got shots in, but each attempt hit bodies and legs of the defenders before being cleared.

But Mickleover then won a free kick after 55 minutes, Atwal stepped up and fired it clear of the wall and the keeper to make it 4-0.

Next it was Ryder’s turn to hit the post after a jinking run through the middle to create his own chance, at this point Alfreton went for a change of keeper.

On the hour Mickleover made their first change, when Dean Ironmonger came on for Powell. Alfreton managed a rare attack though, headed away by Ferron, before Maher saved an even rarer Alfreton shot after 66 minutes.

Tudgay continued to torment the defence too, cutting in from another charge down the left, but his 67th minute shot was just wide.

We only had to wait another two minutes though for goal number five, when Ferron left the defence standing on the left, found Ironmonger in the centre, who wasted no time in burying the ball into the back of the net, 5-0.

Tudgay was then replaced by Liam Carter, but Tomlinson was seeking another hattrick, to add to his previous Youth Cup one. He forced the keeper into another save after a nice ball from Ryder after 74 minutes, but then Ferron put Carter through but the ball was a little too long.

Ryder made way for Luis Mas-Hall with 20 minutes left, but earlier sub Carter was on the attack again. He shot just wide after 81 minutes, but he was then on the end of a longball out from Cholerton, but fired his shot over the bar.

The Alfreton side were struggling in the final minutes and Mickleover were able to take advantage still further. Sandu had a shot just wide after 86 minutes and a minute later a Tomlinson shot was saved by the keepers leg.

Ironmonger made it 6-0 after 88 minutes with a fine solo effort and on the 90 Ferron hit the post. But Carter got the seventh in time added on with a cheeky chip over the keeper 7-0.

Tomlinson had the final shot of the game straight at the keeper, with the whistle soon following, as Mickleover youngsters look forward to the draw for the next round.

Tomlinson Hat-trick In Youth Cup Charge

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover Academy started their 2023/24 Youth Cup campaign with a comfortable 8-0 victory over Leicester Nirvana.

Starting line-up: 1- Josh Maher 2-Mason Hoult 3-Brandon Ferron 4-Toby Smith 5-Jared Cholerton 6-Zak Sandhu 7-Josh Powell 8-Harry Atwal 9-Sam Tomlinson 10-Fin Ryder 11-Mason Tudgay. Subs: Konane Hamza, Josh Bull, Joe Sellers, Luis Mas-Hall, Dean Ironmonger, Owen Parr.

Mickleover were on the attack from the word go, after Atwal found Ferron on the left. His cross into the box was followed by various blocked shots before the danger cleared.

Hoult then charged down the right, but his cross went out of play just over the bar. But it wasn’t long before the goal spree commenced. 

Five minutes in and a nice build up down the right again, found Ryder in the middle, making 1-0 from close range.

Tomlinson almost broke through three minutes later, but Nirvana had their one and only shot of the game after eight minutes. Cholerton lost possession on the left and as the ball was fired into the box, a Nirvana striker saw his spectacular shot go just over the bar, with Maher untroubled.

The visitors had a free kick in dangerous place, but fired it straight into the wall and then after 13 minutes Ferron easily outpaced the defence, with Ryder meeting his cross with a header just over the bar.

Nirvana were struggling to break out of their own half, which allowed the Mickleover back four of Hoult, Cholerton, Sandhu and Ferron, to regularly progress into the visitors half.

Atwal and Smith had an excess of time to plan the moves from midfield, mixed with the tigerish runs of both Powell and Tudgay.

A long ball down the right gave Tomlinson a chase after 14 minutes, but his shot was deflected to earn another corner.

The Nirvana defence had great difficulty in clearing their lines, whether it being a general clearance, goal kick or whatever, with the majority going a few yards straight to  Mickleover players.

Some nice interplay between Powell and Tudgay after 15 minutes brought a second goal, with Ryder tapping in from close range again. 2-0. Only a minute later it was 3-0 with Tudgay cutting in from the left to set up Powell.

Straight from the restart Mickleover continued the barrage on the Nirvana goal, with another Tomlinson effort deflected over the bar, as the visitors keeper continued to put his own side under pressure.

In the 23rd minute his kick barely reached a few feet and was straight to Tudgay. He jinked into space to fire in a shot, which the keeper got his hands to, only for the ball to go straight through for a corner, with Ryder sending the final shot in just wide.

Tomlinson was warned by the referee on the half hour, after a challenge on the keeper, which saw the ball bounce over the bar.

But a minute later the young striker made  it 4-0, collecting a rebound and making no mistake with his shot. He was on the scoresheet again four minutes later, firing in from a Ferron cross, 5-0.

Powell shot just over with a 39th minute effort, before the visiting keeper managed palm away a cross from the right, as Ryder challenged.

The half concluded with Smith jinking through to make space for his own shot, which was just over, but it was a totally dominant first half from Sports.

Mickleover had a half chance blocked almost from kick off in the second half, before Atwal was close to chipping the keeper off his line.

Tomlinson then tried chipping the keeper after 49 minutes, before Atwal was close to sending Ryder clear again a minute later.

Ryder cut in from the line to earn a corner after 55 minutes, from which Atwal dropped a ball into the box, the keeper missed it, but the danger was eventually scrambled clear. 

But goal number six soon followed with a fine distance solo effort from Tomlinson, into the roof of the net, 6-0.

There was nearly a seventh two minutes later, with Ryder outpacing the defence, Tudgay’s shot bounced off the keeper and the bar.

Just after the hour mark Mas-Hall and Ironmonger came on for Tomlinson and Ryder and having only been the pitch for four minutes, Ironmonger made it 7-0, after latching into a Ferron cross.

Sellors came on for Hoult for the last 20 minutes, but Ironmonger went close again after 76 minutes, being just beaten in the chase by the Nirvana keeper.

An 80th minute free kick earned another corner for Sports and two minutes later Ferron had a shot just wide. But there was still one more goal to come, with Smith setting up his own effort, with a crisp long shot into the roof of the net, 8-0 after 85 minutes.

Sellers managed to hit the post in the final minute, but it was a comfortable and convincing win for the Mickleover youngsters, as they now face Alfreton Town at home.

FA Youth Cup Draw

by Peter Scherer

While we look forward to the release of this season’s Southern Premier League Central fixtures at noon on Friday, the Mickleover Academy already know who they will be facing in the FA Youth Cup.

Week commencing September 4th they will be facing the winners of the Extra Preliminary round match between Leicester Nirvana and GNG Oadby Town.

The Preliminary fixture will be at the Don Amott Arena.

Academy Lads Take National Title… Again

by Peter Scherer

Not for the first time Mickleover Academy have ended the season with both the Regional and National titles under their belt.

Back in 20-21 Mickleover had won the Midlands ESPFA title, before seeing off both the Northern and Southern Champions, and only two years later it’s a repeat in the National Academy.

Having secured the Northern title, the play-off for the National title was on the Oxford City ground at 7pm last Wednesday evening, racing the might of Southern Champions West Ham Utd.

Sports youngsters had dominated the game and only a string of critical saves from the Hammers keeper kept the game goalless.

But the deadlock was finally broken in the 75th minute, when George Atwal fired in a telling cross, for Ethan Mann to send a powerful header into the back of the net.

It sealed a strong and successful season for the whole squad, but even more so for Mann. After earning his place in the first team this year, he not only scored the winning goal in Wednesday’s final, but was also named as Man of the Match.

“The boys have dedicated their victory to the memory of former team mate Finn Bowen, on an amazing night for the club, which cements the hard work I have been able to do with Pablo Mills and Andy Dales,” concluded Sports gaffer John McGrath.

Sports’ Youth Go Down To Late Winner

by Peter Scherer

Having already come through two qualifying rounds of the FA Youth Cup, Mickleover Youth Team faced Lutterworth at the Don Amott Arena last Friday.

It was end to end attacking from the start, with Jack Leighton firing in a telling cross from the right, but there was no one to collect.

Ronnie Bonser then sent Brandon Ferron down the left, with his cross earning a corner. 

Lutterworth’s first chance came from a header just over from another corner, but it was Ferron that opened the scoring, beating two defenders before sliding his shot under the keeper 1-0.

Harry Atwal then fired in a free kick to the back post, but again no one there to receive, before a Lutterworth break was intercepted by Charlie Rock. 

Mickleover kept pushing forward and Declan Brown was just beaten to a Ben Horleston pass by the visitors keeper.

Owen Parr then had a shot saved too and continuing pressure on the Lutterworth goal came from a series of Leighton crosses.

The home defence easily dealt with another free kick, before Leighton found Atwal, whose final pass reached Brown, but the shot was too high and it stayed at 1-0 as the half time whistle went.

Lutterworth pulled it back to 1-1 with an early second half header from a free kick and it wasn’t long before it was 1-2, from a Lutterworth break, which saw a rebound shot fired into the back of the net.

Brown then had a shot well saved by the visitors keeper, to earn a corner and Mickleover had to make a change with Dean Ironmonger on for Fin Ryder.

Ironmomger was straight into the action, holding the ball for Brown whose shot was deflected away.

As Leighton continued to cause problems for the visiting defence, Bonser and Ironmonger were close to connecting and Ferron had another Leighton cross deflected away.

Having seen negative sportsmanship and time wasting from Tamworth’s visit earlier last week, sadly Lutterworth played the same game, with an excessive amount of cramp seemingly afflicting their players.

It stayed at 1-2 and to the FA Youth Cup run is over for another season.

(Information supplied by Mickleover Reserves Twitter.)

Mickleover FC Announcement

We can officially announce that we are finishing our agreement with the NPLFA for the Mickleover Football Academy at the end of this season. It has been a pleasure to work with the team from the NPLFA and we wish them well in their endeavours for the future.

The club is currently hosting the MCG Academy at the Don Amott arena who are working alongside the DCCT (Derby County Community Trust) as we continue to develop the facility as a base for future footballers and a future educational base at Mickleover.

Mickleover have a proud history of bringing new and exciting talent from the junior section through to the academy and onwards in their football journey. We are sure that tradition will continue with our new partnerships and the guidance of John McGrath and the coaching staff.  

Thanks to all at the NPLFA and good luck to the new ventures.

Neil Hadfield

Sports Youngsters March On

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover Youth Team now progress into the Second Qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup, after beating St Andrews last Friday.

It got off to a great start when Zac Sandhu was fouled and the referee played on allowing Declan Brown to open the scoring.

But after the strong start St Andrews began to find their feet and started to pose more threat to the Sports defence.

Mickleover had to make an early change when Dean Ironmonger came on for the injured Owen Parr.

But another attack soon followed with Charlie Rock clearing from a St Andrews corner. Fin Ryder then sent a long ball for Brown to chase, but it was intercepted by the visitors keeper.

Rock then fed the ball to Jack Leighton down the right, his cross found Brown again, but a great save from the keeper prompted another St Andrews break.

Bill was deemed to have fouled a striker and although he got a hand to the kick, it was 1-1.

As the home defence continued to look fairly strong, Harry Atwal sent Brandon Ferron running down the left. His cross was met by Sandhu and it was 2-1 as we came to the end of the first half.

Sandhu hit the bar again from a Ferron cross as the second half got under way. The St Andrews keeper then saved from a corner and set up another break for the visitors, but the shot was straight at Bill

But another free kick had Bill beaten as it struck the bar, before the rebound was in the back of the net. 2-2.

Both sides were pushing to take the lead and both keepers were having to pull off some great saves as the clock ran down and penalties loomed again.

In the closing seconds though Brown then picked the ball up, beat two defenders and passed the advancing keeper 3-2.

So its next stop Lutterworth Athletic, to be plated w/c September 26th.

(information courtesy of Mickleover Reserves twitter)