My name is Alex Wynter and I will be taking the baton from Dan Pringle in writing blogs for the LFE about life as an Apprentice.
Dan has now been released by the Club but I’d like to wish him all the best in the future and I hope he doesn’t give up on football. He was a great person to be around every day and he will be missed.
This last month at the training ground has been a bit of a weird one, with the current situation of the first team and the second year Apprentices waiting to find out about their pro contracts.
The Manager came in after the International break and spoke to us all as a Club and just let us know that he wanted the place to be full of smiles creating a good atmosphere because if they are to stay up then everyone needs to be together. I think all of us young lads liked that he included us in the talk as it made us feel as part of the team even if we don’t train with them every day.
On the day of the decisions all the first year Apprentices appeared more nervous than the second years themselves and that’s credit to them to how they handled the situation and dealt with it.
Unfortunately, only two of the 6 received a professional contract, Ibra Sekajja and Jake Caprice which meant Dan Pringle, Karl Knight, Charlie Mann and Rhys Williamson-Murrell were all being released. I wish all of the lads the best for the future.
Since then training has been very diluted due to the numbers we have now and the changing rooms have been a quieter place due to the four lads not being in now, but we have had some good results since that shock to the system with a draw against Coventry and a convincing win against a strong Chelsea team and as I am writing this, we are preparing for our final game of the season against Birmingham City away.
Academy Match: Crystal Palace v Coventry City
We started the game brightly and we always looked threatening going forward and also defensively solid and we took the lead through Kyle De Silva at the beginning of the second half. After the goal we took our foot off the gas and we let Coventry start to dominate the game through their central midfielders and they were now putting a lot of pressure on us defensively.
We conceded a penalty after one of our players was judged to have handled in the box. Fortunately Ross Fitzsimons saved the penalty but we weren’t so fortunate later on. A free kick was awarded on the edge of the box and from the shot one of our players in the wall jumped and the ball was deemed to have struck him on the hand inside the box, I must say we all felt very aggrieved with the award of the penalty and even worse once the ball hit the back of the net.
The game fizzled out and I suppose over 90 minutes a draw was the right result.
Academy Match: Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Chelsea turned up at our place just one week after beating Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup Semi-final first leg and the second leg was to be played the Wednesday after our game.
We weren’t sure what sort of team they were going to field but we knew that if we wanted to beat them that we would have to be on the top of our game and that’s exactly what we were from the start to the finish.
They fielded about six of their youth cup team so we knew weren’t playing a weak Chelsea side. We started brightly and moved the ball neatly whilst creating numerous chances before Ibra tapped in after their ‘keeper had fumbled his shot.
Ibra then raced clear again and slotted the ball in the corner to put us two up with only about five minutes to go. Just before half time they were awarded a penalty and from it they scored.
We went in at half time a bit deflated, after conceding so late and giving them a foot hold in the game. We knew they would come out fast in the second half and we would have to weather their storm but as they pressed us, they left themselves open at the back and we managed to go 3-1 up through Kadell Daniel who later added a fourth via a huge deflection which I think was going off target so it has gone down as an own goal.
We go to Birmingham City full of confidence after a great win against Chelsea and after training well since. Hopefully when I next write, we will have ended our season with two wins and the first team will be guaranteed Championship football next season.