Wisbech Town manager Alex Street says youth pathway is the key to success
Wisbech Town manager Alex Street says a successful youth set-up with a clear pathway to the first team is the way to bring long-term success to the club.
Street, speaking after his young side’s 1-1 home draw with Kimberley Miners Welfare on Saturday, says the Fenmen must mirror the set-ups of some other local clubs to ensure good young players keep coming through.
The club currently has a reserve team in Division One of the Peterborough League and youth teams at Under-18, U16 and U13 levels and Street said: “As a club we have lost touch with our reserves and our youth team.
“When I was 18, being called up for the Under-18s or the reserves was a big honour. It was a big thing to be playing for Wisbech Town and we have slowly let that slide away from us.
“We have not taken notice of the youth and reserve sides and allowed good young players to escape. We need to get back in touch with the youth and try to build that in.
“We now have some decent youth teams and hopefully they grow and we can build a good set-up for the football club going forward. It will take time but laying those foundations is a process that I personally think needs to happen.
“We have got to allow the good players in this area a pathway to come through and represent this football club. Clubs like Leverington and Wisbech St Mary have fantastic youth systems but their pathways end at the Peterborough and Cambs League. We need to be like them but with a pathway to Step 5 football.
“And if anyone wants to get involved in any of this we always need more volunteers. The chairman and a small band of people do a hell of a lot and we are always on the lookout for more helpers. If you can do something for the club please let one of us know.”
Street himself is still looking for help in the dugout and added: “I do find it tough at times as a manager and I still want the right person to come in and help me out but it’s not easy.”
On Saturday, Wisbech led the bottom six clash with Nottingham side Kimberley 1-0 at the break after a Sam Murphy penalty and were unlucky not to be two up after an Amir Ward effort was controversially ruled offside. A defensive mistake allowed the visitors to equalise with 10 ten minutes remaining.
“The lads gave me a lot today and realistically I think it was two points dropped,” Street told the Citizen. “There were some really good individual performances. But when your luck is against you, every little error gets punished.
“We’ve tried to play the right way, it was quite entertaining and we’ve got a point at home. The desire and work rate to get a win was there and the results are coming.
“It is frustrating for us as players and as a club and the fans who are paying their money to come and watch, but we are getting there.
“I thought Amir (Ward) was excellent on the left and everyone worked hard. The wet pitch didn’t help, but considering where we have been over the last five or six games I thought we were good.
“I had six players unavailable with injuries, loans or holidays. But you look at someone like (right wing-back) Joe Reed, who started the season injured. He was playing Cambs County Senior B football last year but today he was excellent at this level.
“Callum Howe is an 18-year-old centre half but I asked him to play left back and he did really well. Sam Murphy was excellent again at centre half too.
“We can get a load of old heads in to keep kicking it long and grind out results as some do in this league or we can build a young side with a little bit of experience and play creative football and that’s what we are trying to do.
“Having Michael Frew and John Challinor in is a big plus. They are 39 and 42-years-old respectively and the professionalism that they have, having played at the highest levels, is rubbing off our young lads who have come up through amateur teams.
“They chat to the young players on the pitch and that helps. We’ve got a good togetherness now and I am excited for them. I am desperate for them to do well.
“We’ve got to keep this young squad together and hopefully we can turn this around and be quite successful. on and off the pitch. We had mascots here today for the first time in ages, and little things like that help put smiles on people’s faces.”
Forward player Andre Williams, who played briefly for the club a couple of seasons ago, is back after signing from bottom of the table Pinchbeck United, and played 15 minutes as sub on Saturday.
Williams has scored eight goals in 20 games for the strugglers and Street said: “When you’ve scored the goals Andre has for a team that are bottom of the league that shows he has got something about him, and the way we try to play now, we’ve just got to allow our forwards to get some shots on target as we didn’t really make keepers work for the last couple of games.”
Next Saturday Wisbech entertain Boston Town in another bottom half-of-the-table clash, with Street saying: “We have a lot of quality options, a lot of positions up for grabs. We will train again on Tuesday evening, keep growing and progressing and look forward to the game.”
Wisbech: George, Reed, Howe, Murphy, Mattless, Hart, Ward, Wilson (O Williams 90 mins), Frew (A Williams 79), Challinor, Allen (Murkin 90). Sub (not used): Street.
Star man: Joe Reed.
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