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Jamie Chandler: “I’m very proud of how they’ve represented the Academy today” (Monkwearmouth FA 4-1 Whitburn)

Monkwearmouth 4-1 Whitburn (15 December) Credit: Nathan Bell

Jamie Chandler is “delighted” for his Year 7 ‘A’ side, who made it into the last 32 of the national cup on Wednesday by defeating cross-city rivals, Whitburn Academy, 4-1.

Monkwearmouth were 3-0 up within 15 minutes and this gave the side lots of confidence to carry out their game plan impeccably, and the Academy manager believes it is a testament to the group’s character.

He said: “It was a tough game, and they were very competitive, had some really good players.

“I thought we started the game fantastically well. Obviously, when you go 3-0 up in the first 15 minutes or so it’s maybe hard to maintain those standards for the duration of the game.

“They came back into the game and got a deserved goal. It was a little bit sloppy on our behalf but I thought the second half, we managed the game really well.

“Like I said before, the game was competitive, there were all sorts of challenges going on. But our conduct, both when we played and at the end of the game, was fantastic.

“I’m very proud of how they’ve represented the Academy today.”

Chandler works with Josh Akal to impose these positive standards on the players and this clearly has reflected strongly on the field. The team has now made the quarter-final of both the league cup and the county cup.

Monkwearmouth are top of the local league, too, and have now made the last 32 of the national cup – something which Chandler believes can inspire the team further.

“It’s very encouraging. They’ve had a brilliant start to life at the secondary school, you know, top of the table, quarter-final of the league cup, quarter-final of the county cup and now last 32 of the competition that started with 600 schools.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to them, they’ve had to work at it. They’re still learning, they’re still developing.

“It’s not all about winning. Try and tell them that and they’d laugh at you! But it’s not all about winning – it’s about how we do things; our identity and our culture.

“But they’re buying into what we’re wanting as coaches, what we’re wanting as a school.

“And they’re fully behind the ethos of the school and the stuff that they’re implementing on the pitch now is of a really high standard.”

Excellence is a staple of the Monkwearmouth ethos and the very strong start – 3-0 up within 15 minutes – pushed the team to keep resilient, even when faced by Whitburn’s challenges.

“I think that it’s something we’ve tried to look to implement at home,” Chandler added. “We try and prepare the boys well by getting them out early for warm-ups, getting them switched on so they’re nice and ready for the start of the game.

“We look to be positive straight from the kick-off. Obviously we tried to look forward, trying to penetrate early on.

“Getting the goals early really does help, it gives you something to hold onto and it makes them be a little more expansive and that helps us at times.

“We like to get the ball down, we like to be creative in possession, but we’ve got a really good work ethic as well.

“Although at times we did have to dig in today, we had to defend, it’s credit to the boys so I thought they were excellent with and without the ball.”