A young group of academy players proved they can mix it with the best as they took on England under-16s at Brighton & Hove Albion’s training ground on Friday.
Loxwood’s Academy and the Love the Ball Academy had the honour of playing the young Three Lions players as they prepared for the Nike International Tournament Cup in the USA.
Mark Beard - the Loxwood first team manager who also runs the academy set-up at the club - and his players faced off against the stars of the future at Lancing and narrowly lost 4-2.
It was the final preparation for England, before they flew out to take on USA, Brazil and the Dutch.
Beard said: “It was unbelievable to be given the opportunity - although we had to keep it pretty quiet. John Morling, who is head of youth at Brighton, asked us four weeks ago if we’d like to play England under-16 before they flew off to a tournament in America.
“Dan Micciche, the England head coach, also said he wanted to play us and that’s how it happened.
“We lost 4-2 but it was a really good experience for both Loxwood and the LTB Academy and a great thing for the club to have done.
“It was brilliant to be playing and testing ourselves against their best squad with players from United, City, Arsenal and Tottenham.
“We matched them up in every department and my boys were excellent. We got great feedback from the England coaches and now we have a little bit of a relationship with them which is great for the club.
“It’s not the type of thing they do, they mainly play against pro clubs, in fact I would go as far to say they have never done it against a non-league side’s academy.”
Chris Barnard netted from the penalty spot and Max Bickell was also on target for Beard’s side in the four 20-minute halves.
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