College Academy in sight of fourth-straight title

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BURNLEY College’s Male Football Academy is well placed to secure its fourth league title in a row, thanks to two impressive wins recently.

The team beat Accrington and Rossendale College 1-0 thanks to a goal from Advanced Level Sports Studies student Brandon Barski.

Coach Gerry Harrison said: “This was a game between who I consider to be the best two teams in the league and so the result was the most pleasing of the season. We had the better chances throughout the game and it was clear that whoever scored the first goal would most likely go on to win the game, which we did.”

The team followed this game up with a 2-1 win away at Reaseheath College, a result which took them above Reaseheath at the top of the table. Goals from Advanced Level Sports Studies student Ross Murphy and Business Administration student Sam Reeves won the game for Burnley College.

Harrison added: “Reaseheath set a very physical tone for the game but our boys got the ball on the floor in the second half and were patient in their attempt for scoring the winning goal. We dominated the second half and created a number of goal scoring chances, with only Reaseheath’s goalkeeper to thank for keeping the score so close.

“This result shows that the players are improving all the time as I think it is one we would have lost at the beginning of the season.”

The Football Academy is playing under two new coaches this season in Harrison and Barry Knowles.

Former Burnley, Watford, Bristol City, Luton Town, Sunderland and Hull City midfielder Harrison was named coach of the Male Football Academy at the beginning of the season and Knowles was recently added to its coaching staff.

Knowles played over 300 games in defence for Wigan Athletic in the 1980s, winning the Football League Trophy in 1985.

After hanging up his boots, he enjoyed roles as youth team coach at Wigan Athletic and Everton – working with a young Wayne Rooney – and as Head of Youth Development at Blackpool Football Club. Knowles, who is a UEFA A qualified coach, now combines his role at the College with delivering the Football Association’s Talent ID course. He also works with the Premier League’s Youth Development team, a role which includes working with young players in Azerbaijan.

Sports Academy students are able to pursue their chosen sport while studying on one of the Ofsted graded outstanding academic programmes at the College’s Sixth Form Centre. Students at the academies make full use of the high specification facilities at the Princess Way campus and also the facilities of professional clubs. In addition to the Football Academy, Burnley College also runs Basketball, Netball and Golf academies.