Report by Bradley Rice
SOLIHULL Moors’ Academy products were put to the test last week, after two players from their production line went on trial at Burnley last week.
Skipper Ethan Sephton and forward Keziah Martin both played in a friendly against Rangers as the Clarets took the chance to take a closer look at Solihull’s hot prospects.
The two youngsters admit the experience brought a few surprises but were encouraged by what they encountered at Turf Moor.
“It was really surprising,” Ethan said.
“I thought it was going to be a hostile environment because that’s the kind of the impression you get.
“But it wasn’t like that at all, everyone looked after me and Kaz really well. They showed us great hospitality and the players made us feel really welcome.”
“The training ground and facilities were outstanding,” said Keziah.
“Everybody was incredibly humble, even though they are playing at a high level, they’re still very grounded.
The pair were taken by surprise by Burnley’s direct style at academy level, something they had not accounted for.
“It’s surprisingly similar to that of Moors,” said Ethan.
“It’s very direct, hitting the channels, playing to the front man early.
“Their philosophy is all about running, giving 110% and getting about the pitch. That’s something that we have learned here at Moors.”
“They are prepared to do the dirty side of the game,” said Keziah.
“They’re happy to play the long ball when it’s on.
“I was not expecting them to put in such big tackles, to play ugly, I thought it would be all nice, technical football, but it wasn’t like that.”
“Everyone has the impression that academy players don’t learn that side of the game,” said Ethan.
“But a team like Burnley, who aren’t afraid to play a long ball, it’s a big part of their play.”
Despite the big step up, they admitted they had been well prepared by the Moors Academy to take on the challenge.
“Without doubt, Moors are turning us into better players and clearly the system is working,” said Ethan.
“They have provided us with a platform, a basic grounding, from which to build.
“It’s then up to the individual, us, to make something of it and I feel I have done just that.”
Keziah added: “Playing non-league, against men, week in week out, has definitely helped me.
“I am prepared for that side of the game and I was able to fit in straight away, I didn’t feel out of my depth at all.
“All in all, Solihull are doing a lot of things right in terms of helping us on the pathway to playing at the highest level.”
The desire of the pair to reach the pinnacle has grown stronger after having a taste for life in the top-flight, making them even more determined to make it as professionals.
“Even being there just for a day, you can take so much from the experience,” said Ethan.
“The training, the intensity, the whole environment, it’s a great place to learn.
“We now know what I need to do, we know we have what it takes, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and refining elements of our game, so that we are well equipped for next time.”
Bradley Rice can be found writing for his blog – Half-Time Oranges – where he provides original insights into the beautiful game from a number of different angles, all sharing the same trend of focusing on real stories from real people.
He can also be found providing live tweets and content for Solihull Moors Academy side @MoorsAcademy