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We’ve had a great start to the academic year at the Bath City Football Academy. Read our progress report, written by former Bristol Rovers player Billy Clark who is head coach at the academy.
 
This year has brought together a strong group of players, formed from a mixture of first and second year students studying sport at Bath College.
 
After a disappointing FA Youth Cup exit in the final qualifying round to Clevedon Town, we have been unbeaten in the South West Counties Youth League.
 

Billy Clark
 
We are currently at the top of that league, two points ahead of the Bristol Academy, although they still have games in hand. We have played them once this season in the league, which resulted in a 2-2 draw at their Filton College campus. This was probably our best performance of the season to date, and I believe one of us will win the league this year.
 
To date, we have only lost one match, away at Bridgewater. Of the 10 league matches, we have won six:
 
5-2 against Cirencester
2-0 against Salisbury
6-0 against Poole Town
6-4 against BC Saints FC
And twice against New College Swindon (3-2 and 10-1).
 
We are fortunate to be blessed with goal scorers this year. James Ollies, Louis Britton and Shea Bennington Mannings have all scored nine league goals to date, while Zak Drew and Charlie Saunders have four each.
 
These statistics are encouraging, but the end goal for us is to be able to feed youth players into the first team environment. The Somerset Cup offers and opportunity for our strongest players to be able to step up and play alongside the first team players.
 
In the first round, academy players Charlie Saunders, Nick Pulman, James Ollis, Zak Drew, Adam Forster and Maz Courtier seized their chance in the fixture at Cheddar.
 
The experience that these players gain from playing alongside the likes of Dan Ball is immeasurable. The result was a 2-1 win that saw the club progress to the second round against Keynsham Town FC.
 
Both Adam Forster and James Ollis were unused subs in that match, but Sean Bird, who a player at the University of Bath came on in the first half and played admirably alongside some of the senior first team players in a strong Bath City side. Several members of the group have trained regularly with the first team and are gaining in confidence all the time.
 
There’s a lot to be proud of in this group of players. They work consistently at a high level despite the commitments that they have in keeping up to speed with their studies at Bath College, where the staff support myself and the players every step of the way.
 

Charlie Saunders
 
Our most recent success story is that Charlie Saunders has been selected for the ECFA national squad, an outstanding achievement. Charlie will travel to St George’s Park to train with the squad in December in preparation for their tournament in Italy in 2018. We’re also proud of James Ollis, who signed for Bath City FC’s first team in November.
 
We are starting to look ahead to our recruitment for next season. If you or anyone that you know would be interested in studying at Bath College and playing for the Bath City Academy under 18s, please get in touch by e-mailing bclarkwilliam@gmail.com.
 

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