JOHN CAMPBELL reckons the first semi-final appearance for Newmains United’s development team is more progress their academy system is working.
They face a last-four President’s Cup clash with Port Glasgow Athletic on Saturday at the Glasgow Green Football Centre (kick-off 10am).
The appearance comes after midfielder Daryl Conarty made the step-up to the first team and with the 2007s side flying high in their league.
United’s academy only started in the summer but chief Campbell and his youth coaches have quickly worked their magic.
Campbell said: “I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s semi-final against Port Glasgow Athletic. The whole squad is excited by the prospect.
“This is the first semi-final since Newmains United introduced the development squad and academy.
“The Under-13s are performing terrifically well in their league and it will be fantastic if the development squad can reach the President’s Cup final and do their bit to put Newmains on the map.
“Reaching a semi-final is a milestone for the club but continued progress is the aim and a good performance will give us a great chance of getting to the final.”
United are in the Development section of the Strathclyde Saturday Morning Amateur League, while PGA are two divisions above them in Championship A.
When the United development team was formed the emphasis was on providing a pathway for players to step up into the McBookie League Two first team.
It means Campbell has the youngest squad in the league. But they have beaten the odds to reach this stage after edging their quarter-final with the Department of Trade & Industry 5-4 earlier this month.
He said: “In the quarter final Gary Denholm scored two and our captain Ruairi Kirkwood scored a penalty. At 22 and 23 they are the old men of the team!
“It was fitting that 17-year-old Kyle Fleming also grabbed two and 21-year-old keeper Cammy Kirkwood saved a penalty.
“On Saturday it’s likely 16-year-old James O’Hara and 17-year-olds Kyle McKee and Dylan Taylor will play. McKee is becoming a stand-out player in midfield.”
Saturday’s match will be played to a finish. A draw after 90 minutes will see the tie go straight into a penalty shootout.