Category: Academy News


Dover Athletic is proud to announce that three of our Academy youngsters have signed their first professional contracts with the club.

Right-back Harrison Byford, forward Noah Carney, and Alex Green, who can play at centre back or left back, have all featured and impressed during our pre-season campaign.

Harrison and Noah are both 17 while Alex, the Academy captain, is 18.

Manager Andy Hessenthaler said: “We are delighted that the three lads have signed with us. They have put in some good performances and shown plenty of potential, which is why they deserve this recognition.

“This is reflective of everything the Academy should be about. In these players, we see locally born youngsters developing on and off the field from their first steps into football to now into the first-team squad.”

Academy Manager Mike Sandmann said he was really pleased the three had taken their opportunity when given to them by the manager.

He said: “It’s evident to all the young players the pathway we now have into the first team and the ones that have been given the opportunity have taken it with both hands.

“Credit needs to go to Noah, Harrison, and Alex  – their work ethic is outstanding, always wanting to improve and they are great characters too.

“We provide an environment at the Academy that allows the players to develop, improve, and seeing another three lads given this opportunity will give everyone else a lift and an extra determination to work hard every day on the training pitch.

“Once again it shows that the manager and the club are willing to give young players a chance and that’s really important.

“The young players still have plenty of learning to do and now they are in the perfect environment regularly to continue doing that.”

Green will wear the number 12 shirt, Carney has been given number 19, while Byford will have 24 on his back.


The Dover Athletic Academy finished the season in style after beating their Dartford counterparts to win the Kent Academies Cup final on Wednesday.

Rolando Onu and Alex Green scored the goals as Dover came from behind to beat the hosts.

Manager Mike Sandmann was not surprisingly absolutely delighted with the result.

He said: “It was a fantastic win against a very strong Dartford team and its a great way for some of the boys to sign off from their time with the Academy.

“It was a great atmosphere with so many people turning out and I’m pleased for the boys they got to experience that.

“The game from start to finish was a high tempo battle and our lads had to show real character from going a goal behind.

“Dartford has been the stand-out team this season and we knew we would need to do something different against them to try and win the game.

“We said before the game to use the final as a celebration to the end a really tough time the last two seasons with all the disruptions due to Covid-19 and I couldn’t be any more proud of the lads.”

Eight Kent clubs contested the competition in a league format before the two teams met in the final.

The competition was organised after the league season was been postponed due to Covid-19.



The Dover Athletic Academy will be looking to finish their season on a high tonight.

Manager Mike Sandmann’s youngsters will travel to Dartford to play the hosts in the Kent Academies Cup final at 7.45pm.

The game will be played on Dartford’s 3G pitch.

Eight Kent clubs contested the competition in a league format before the two teams met in the final.

The competition was organised after the league season was been postponed due to Covid-19.

Sandmann said: “It’s been a really good competition and given the lads an opportunity to play competitive fixtures and I’m pleased they will get the opportunity to play in a final.

“For some lads this will be their last game as Academy players so we are hoping they can sign out winning the competition.

“Dartford are an extremely strong side who narrowly beat us 2-1 in the league fixtures so we know it’s going to be a tough game.”


The Dover Athletic Academy are through to the First Round of the FA Youth Cup after a 1-0 win against Lewes at Crabble.

Noah Carney’s first half goal was the only moment that separated the two sides in a closely contested match.

Academy Manager Mike Sandmann’s youngsters almost made the perfect start, with George Nikaj seeing his early effort saved.

The hosts didn’t have to wait long to get the opener as Carney, scorer against Hanworth Villa in the previous round, opened went through on goal on 15 minutes before coolly slotting past Lewes’ goalkeeper.

Dover created further chances, but were unable to make the game safe and despite the victory, Sandmann was unhappy with the way his team kept the ball.

Sandmann’ said: “Obviously it’s a good result for the boys and I can’t fault their effort, but I felt we made the game hard work for ourselves and needed better quality in possession to cause Lewes more problems.

“It’s pleasing to keep another clean sheet in this competition, but we need to make sure we continue to work hard to improve every game.”

The Academy will travel to Dorking in the first round.

About the first round tie, Sandmann said: “I am pleased for the boys.  To get to the first round is an achievement and we will be hoping to continue in the competition as far as we can.

“Dorking will be a very tough game again and we will need to perform to our full potential if we want to progress.”


The Dover Academy conceded a 96th minute penalty to deny them of all three points at Eastleigh.

Noah Carney added to his goal last week in the FA Youth Cup by scoring twice as the young Whites looked set to take victory.

However, Eastleigh were gifted an equaliser deep into added time, when a lapse in concentration allowed the hosts to score late on.

Dover started strongly and took the lead midway through the first half through some excellent play from Rolando Onu, who in turn set up Carney to finish.

The young whites almost doubled their lead towards the break, however George Lamb’s effort struck the post.

Carney doubled his and Whites’ tally in the second half after some good play allowed the youngster to coolly stroke home.

Eastleigh were then awarded a spot kick, however Athletic goalkeeper Magnus Lewis guessed correctly and saved the penalty.

However, the Spitfires pulled level late on, halving the deficit with 10 minutes remaining before being awarded a second spot-kick, this time after 90 minutes had been played, which was duly converted to level the scores.

About the game, Academy manager Mike Sandmann said: “I can’t fault the lads for their hard work but we need to be better in difficult moments in games and learn how to manage games better.

“It’s a learning curve for the lads with many still only in their first year, so it’s something we will be looking to improve on as we continue through the season.”


The Dover Athletic academy are through to the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup following a 2-0 victory at Hanworth Villa.

Mike Sandmann’s youngsters made up for last year’s 5-0 cup defeat to the same team by putting in a dominant performance in Monday’s Second Qualifying Round.

The academy showed their intent from the off and took the lead in the 16th minute through Noah Carney after some really good play from George Nikaj.

Young whites’ second arrived just before the hour mark thanks to Nikaj’s free kick.

Academy manager Sandmann said after the game: “It was a really pleasing, solid performance from the academy and the boys did well to limit our opponents to a few chances.

“I thought we started strongly and could have been ahead even earlier, so I was really happy with how we played; it was a good performance.”

Dover’s academy will host Lewes in the next round.



The two Dover Athletic Academy teams started their seasons with impressive wins.

The number 1 squad, who play in the National Youth League South, beat visiting Boreham Wood 4-0 thanks to a double from Onu and further goals from Baptiste and Igbedion.

Dover opened the scoring through Onu’s penalty in the 25th minute before midfielder Baptiste fired home the second from outside the box after some good work from Rossi just before half-time.

Onu made it 3-0 after an assist by Wilkinson before substitute Igbedion completed the scoring after some good link up play with Sosan.

The number 2 squad completed a great day for the Academy with a 4-1 win at Sutton United.

Nelson (2), Sikirwayi and Way got the goals.

Nelson opened the scoring from a Halls corner before Sikirwayi ‘s long-range effort made it 2-0 at the break.

Sutton reduced the deficit just after half-time making it 2-1 before O’Donnell provided Nelson with his second goal of the game.

Way made it 4-1 following some good link up play with Dallas.

Academy Manager, Mike Sandmann, said:” I am pleased to get the season off and running it’s been extremely strange times and I have to give credit to the group for their hard work throughout the summer.

“It’s been a very different pre-season to what we are used to, but the group have now set a bench mark on what we keep trying to improve on.”


Following communication from the National League U19 Alliance, all of Dover Athletic Under-19 fixtures have been suspended until further notice due to COVID-19.

The situation will be monitored closely and clubs will be kept up to date with any decisions that are made.


Dover Athletic Academy starlet Rolando Onu has been named the National League Young Player of the Month for February.

The striker has scored six goals in his past five matches, including braces against Weston-Super-Mare and Maidenhead United.

With a total of 16 goals for the campaign, Onu is very much in contention to be the division’s top goalscorer at the end of the season.

Dover Athletic are fifth in National League Football Academy South, just three points behind the league leaders with nine games to go.

Academy Manager, Mike Sandmann, said: “I speak to the forward players a lot about end product and he has really improved on this. His stats are backing this up.

“Rolando’s pace and power causes problems and he is now gaining a better understanding of movement as well as working on his compusure in front of goal.

“At the end of the month Rolando will also be travelling to California to showcase himself in order to gain and full scholarship in America.

“We are really pleased he has been given this award and believe he will only continue to improve”.


Rolando Onu’s goal was not enough as Squad One had to settle for a point against an Aldershot Town unbeaten since the beginning of December in the National League South Division.

After being forced into two early changes through injury, the young Whites responded well and took the lead after a good bit of play left Onu with the simple task of tapping home a cross into the box.

However, the lead didn’t last too long, with The Shots equalising from a set piece on the stroke of half time.

The second half continued to be a very even affair, with both teams having chances. The best chance fell for Aaron Walker in the dying moments of the game, only for his late effort to strike the post

Academy manager Mike Sandmann said: “It was disappointing to concede from a set piece just before half-time, but in the end a draw was probably fair.

“I have to give credit to our lads today, they showed great character against a side who are on an unbeaten run.  For me Aldershot are the best team we have come up against this season.”

Meanwhile, Squad Two were overpowered by a strong Whyteleafe side in a 9-2 defeat.  At 3-2, White’s youngsters had chances to level, however those missed opportunities were punished with their opponents scoring six without reply.

Sandmann said: “Despite the scoreline, it could have been different game completely if we had equalised with the score at 3-2.

“It’s a tough afternoon for everyone but we can learn plenty from playing against a very good side.

Elsewhere, the Development Squad will be happy with a point after a 3-3 draw away to King Henry School.

Two goals from George Nikaj and a third by Reece Jobe secured a well-deserved point against the league leaders.