Shoreham Football Club boss Bryan O’Toole said he was pleasantly surprised with the performances of young players in his side’s first pre-season friendly on Saturday.
Doubles for Joe Keehan and Rob O’Toole ensured Mussels secured a 4-4 draw with Southern Combination League Division 1 opponents Southwick at Middle Road.
Shoreham boss Bryan O’Toole gave most of his senior players an hour or so as they slowly begin to build for the new season.
But a surprising factor for Mussels’ manager was how well some of the club’s younger players performed.
In total, nine 16-year-olds got on the field at some point in the fixture and O’Toole says it was a great opportunity to give them a go.
He said: “I was really impressed with how all of the young ones coped.
“Obviously, with age, some of them lack that little bit of physicality but other than that I thought they all did really well.
“I started out with Ryan Gould and he did well in the first half, then Ryan Stevens came on and really impressed on the right.
“It was really refreshing to see them come on and do as well as they did. It gives me something to think about moving forward.”
O’Toole revealed he just let the players go out and play in their first run-out of pre-season but he’ll ramp things up in the coming weeks.
With the Southern Combination League Premier Division campaign kicking off on August 6 he knows his side will need to be ready.
O’Toole added: “Saturday I just let the players go out and play.
“The score was irrelevant – it was just a case of going out and playing.
“We play Catholic United on Saturday with things going up a notch for that, then similar as the season gets closer.”
In the build-up to their first pre-season friendly, O’Toole managed to add yet another new addition.
Midfielder David O’Callaghan has agreed to join Shoreham for the new season after a season at Lancing last time out.
Mussels boss O’Toole says it’s another addition he is delighted to bring in.
He said: “David is a great passer of the ball and one I’m really pleased to welcome.
“It’s taken him hardly anytime to settle in and he knows quite a few of the lads here aswell.”
Southwick boss John Kilgarriff felt it was an ideal run-out for his side.
He felt the character shone through as they fought back from 4-1 down to claim a 4-4 draw.
He said: “I was really impressed with all of the character and effort shown.
“If you look at Shoreham’s side, it’s got Ryman League quality running through it.
“We did a really good job to come back from 4-1 down and secure a draw in the end.
“The result is not an important factor for me but with several players missing, for us to come away with something was great.”
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