A GROUP of young players from Andover have become the first youth side from the town to complete the double, a year after the team nearly saw its end.

Andover Town Youth FC U13s completed the league-cup double following their penalty shootout victory against Chineham Tigers, to end what looked like a turbulent 12 months for the club.

The U13s were near to folding this time last year after Covid took its toll, and players left football as a result. While some players moved to different teams after what was a tough season last year, the results on the pitch were not going in their way either.

However, after a summer recruitment drive, the club, coached by Nick Stephens and Steve Skillin, managed to secure enough players to go again this season and compete in the Peter Houseman Youth League.

Nick said it was not an easy task to rebuild the team in a short period.

“With only five of the original players still remaining from the season before and bringing in what was a new crop of 11 players, we could tell this would be a tough season for the team,” Nick said.

“We decided to continue to train all throughout the summer in an attempt to help this process ready for the start of the season, and arranged many friendlies in the summer, and preseason periods to help this process.”

Andover Advertiser: Andover Town Youth FC U13s coach Nick Stephens with his daughterAndover Town Youth FC U13s coach Nick Stephens with his daughter

After a shaky preseason with mixed results amidst the recruitment drive, the U13s came into their stride from the second league fixture of the season.

The team then went from strength to strength, as the players started to gel, and got into a rhythm. The league eventually became a two-horse race between Andover Town, and Farnborough Youth FC, all the way into the last few weeks of the season as both teams pushed each other all the way.

However, the Andover Town kids came out stronger in the end, and declared league winners at the beginning of this month and topped this off by also securing the league cup on Sunday, May 22.

They defeated Chineham Tigers in a nervy penalty shootout after the game finished 2-2. This ensured they became the first Andover Town youth team to complete the league and cup double.

Nick said: “The progress this team has made in one year is amazing, from where we were this time last year, to win the league and cup double is an excellent achievement.

“I am immensely proud of each one of my players for the effort, and dedication they have shown this year, and the determination to keep going, and never giving up, and they are now reaping the rewards for all their hard work.”

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