Under 20s: Atkinson’s evolution embarks upon a new journey

Posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2019

New season, new faces, ethos the same. Les Atkinson’s Under 20s kick-off their Development League campaign under the lights on Friday night in a Capital Derby when they take on Edinburgh United at Ainslie Park.

Last season saw the young Spartans starlets scoop a quartet of silverware but even with the inevitable changes in personnel at age grade sport, a fresh campaign continues to find Head Coach Atkinson in ebullient mood ahead of the campaign kick-off.

Speaking ahead of the opener, the Spartans 20s supremo noted, “Pre-season has been very positive and surprisingly better than we thought for the stage we are at. It’s perhaps not quite where we want to be but of course, there’s a lot of learning to be done with the nature of the squad.

“We’ve got the nucleus of around ten players who have remained from last year plus the new recruits who have come in, so it’s going to be another exciting two to three year project as we move forward.

“We played Livingston Reserves last week and that’s probably the best we’ve played in pre-season. It gave us a real opportunity to test ourselves too against an experienced side and it perhaps brought us up to the level and tempo of where we should be playing.

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s work to do to gel everything together however I’m pleased with the progress so far and with the new signings who have slotted into the squad well. There’s a lot of good talent be developed, including the likes of Alex Hamilton who comes in at Centre Half who is as cool as a cucumber under pressure so I’m excited to see how he develops over the coming months and Kyle Robertson who made a good impression in his first season at just 16 years of age.

“Our ‘older’ guys – those at 17 / 18 – will now be looked upon to step up and lead and be role models for their younger team mates. Evolution starts again if you like and we’ll see what happens. Last season saw a near clean sweep for the 20s with success in winning the League Cup, Knock-Out Cup, Conference B title and League Championship Play Off however Atkinson is mindful of managing expectations.

“We’ve got our targets, we got our aims and we’ve got our ambitions and we spoke about them once again at training during the week.”

The new campaign kicks-off against Edinburgh United in Conference A for Atkinson’s side. The teams met three times last season with Spartans achieving a hat-trick of victories but the Gaffer is most certainly on guard for a tough opening encounter.

“It’s the different side of the Conference coin for us this year with around 50% change in opponents which brings exciting new challenges for us and that begins on Friday against Edinburgh United We know from last year that they are typically well drilled and organised side and gave us a tough couple of games. They’ll undoubtedly have strengthened their squad since the last time we played them so we’ll be going into the opener focussing on ensuring we get our basics right and come out of it in the end with maximum points.”

Kick-off is 8pm. Free Entry. Academy Café will be open.

Next Fixture

club crest
Date: Saturday 1st February
Opponent: Edinburgh University
Competition: Lowland League
Kick off: 3.00pm

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