Teenagers make dream debuts for March Town United Reserves after school cup heartbreak

TWO teenage football stars suffered the heartbreak of losing their final school game on Thursday but returned to action two days later to make dream debuts for their hometown club.

Goalkeeper Luke Bradshaw and midfielder Aidan Payne, both 16, helped March Town United Reserves to an enthralling 5-4 victory against Elsworth Sports on Saturday.

The Neale-Wade students - who play youth football for Wisbech St Mary - had tasted a bitter defeat when their school’s under-16 team were knocked out of a national cup, losing 1-0 to Nottingham Trinity at the GER.

But their performances caught the eye of Hares secretary Ray Bennett and they were quickly handed shock call-ups to March’s second-string by club chairman Phil White.

Bradshaw, who made a string of fine saves, said: “It’s all a bit surreal. I’ve always wanted to play for March, it’s my hometown team.

“I just never thought it would happen and certainly not this quickly, especially after a loss too. It’s been a bit of a blur.

“We were completely gutted at the end of the school match. We just sat on the pitch, looking at the main stand for about 20 minutes. It was quite emotional because we knew it was our last ever game - the end of an era.

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“I couldn’t believe I played the full 90 minutes on Saturday. Now I just want to get more games under my belt and make myself a part of this team.”

Lee White and Phil Kowbas both bagged braces and Stuart Anderson also got on the scoresheet in Saturday’s win, which keeps the reserves well in the Cambs BIS League Division 1B title race.

The side were also thankful for their new signings as Bradshaw pulled off a host of saves to repel a second-half Elsworth comeback.

Payne, who made his confident debut from the bench, said: “It’s a big step up and a bit more physical but I loved it. When I was younger I used to come and watch March play at the GER and this week I’ll be on the pitch myself.”

Chairman White, enjoying a successful spell in charge of the reserves, said: “They both jumped at the opportunity to play and they’re both back in the squad this week. It’s great to have young lads playing because that’s what every successful club needs.”