The last month has certainly been one to forget for Jon De Souza’s youngsters; despite a four-game unbeaten stretch at the beginning of the season, Brentford’s Under 18s have fallen to five defeats in the six games since, and surrendered their early side place at the summit of the Professional Development League Two South.
Three impressive victories over Sheffield United, Cardiff City and local rivals QPR were followed by defeats to Bolton Wanderers, Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City – the latter two lost thanks to second-half capitulations.
Order looked to be restored after a hard-earned 2-1 win against Hull City last weekend (3 October) saw the Bees jump back up to third place, but a below-par performance versus struggling Bristol City on Saturday (10 October) compounded a miserable six weeks.
Injuries have done little to help matters, with left-sided defenders Romayn Pennant (Second Year) and George Harmes (First Year) joining captain Seth Owens on the treatment table, with 7-goal top scorer Courtney Austin missing the defeat in Bristol due to concussion suffered in a collision with Hull City goalkeeper Johnny Saltmer; Jeremiah Kamanzi and Kyjuon Marsh-Brown are yet to feature this campaign.
In terms of the standout performers thus far, first-year scholar Danny Parish has netted three times and, since returning from injury in September, influential midfielder Reece Cole has carried on his form from last season, scoring two stunning free-kicks against Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City. Second-year scholar and centre-back Chris Mepham – stand-in captain in the absence of the aforementioned Owens – is the only ever-present in the side and clearly impressed now-first team manager Lee Carsley enough to earn three starts for the Under 21s so far, in addition to ten for the U18s.
Encouragingly, Mepham has not been the sole scholar selected for the Under 21s so far this season; Giovanni McGregor (1 sub), Julius Fenn-Evans (2 sub), Reece Cole (1 start, 1 sub), Ian Carlo Poveda (1 sub) and Josh Bohui (1 start, 3 sub) have all featured. Winger Bohui scored the opening goal in the U21 Premier League Cup victory over QPR on 6 October, and is said to be attracting interest from Premier League clubs.
Also making a name for himself is former Barcelona youngster Ian Carlo Poveda. The Columbian-born playmaker –comfortable when deployed on either wing or playing as a number 10 – doesn’t turn 16 until February but has already cemented his place in De Souza’s starting eleven, scoring three goals and assisting four more in just seven starts. This remarkable form has caught the eye of England U16s Head Coach, Dan Micciche, who rewarded Poveda with two caps in victories over the USA in August and a place in the squad for France’s Tournoi International tournament, starting on 24 October.
The Bees face Millwall next weekend (17 October) in their sixth away game in a row before a trip to Watford on Halloween, their first home game since August against Colchester (7 November) and a daunting fixture against league-leaders Charlton Athletic, who have conceded just three goals at home this term.
The original article can be found here.