Curtis Nelson made a successful return from injury today when he played 80 minutes in a Development Game.
United’s influential defender was impressive at the heart of a strong United team who had just too much experience for a team from the FFD TV Academy, winning 6-0 in a very enjoyable game at Court Place Farm.
Nelson lined up in a back four that also included Aaron Martin and youngsters Matt Berry-Hargreaves and Albie Hopkins. Canice Carroll provided steel as the holding man in a three man midfield alongside the excellent Josh Ashby and Ivo Pekalski, who completed another 90 minutes as he also comes back from a long term injury.
It was the forwards’ day though with Malachi Napa looking very lively and hitting the bar in an all action performance and Gino van Kessel scoring twice in the first half while a trialist completed a hat trick, also in the first 45 minutes.
The opener came in just the second minute when van Kessel ran clear after a clever pass from Pekalski and calmly stroked the ball past the keeper to make it 1-0. Four minutes later van Kessel turned provider to set the trialist up for the second, and the same player then notched twice more after 28 and 36 minutes, both times following up van Kessel efforts at goal.
Van Kessel then completed an impressive first half with the fifth goal himself when he latched on to a short back pass, before being subbed at half time, perhaps with Saturday’s home game against Southend in mind.
His replacement, Aaron Heap, then got in on the goalscoring action, advancing from left back to smash home a fine finish to make it 6-0.
The FFD TV Academy side were far from overawed against their more experienced opponents and did strike the bar with their best effort, but United will be the team to take far more positives away with Nelson’s return, two goals from van Kessel, a towering performance from Martin and some outstanding performances from their talented youngsters.
Trialist, Berry-Hargreaves, Nelson (Crooks 80), Martin, Hopkins, Carroll, Pekalski, Ashby, Napa, van Kessel (Heap h/t), Trialist (James h/t)