Category: Academy News


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.


It was a successful round of results for all three squads recently.

Squad One reacted well to last week’s disappointing cup defeat against Eastleigh, coming from a goal down to beat Dartford 3-1 away from home.

Strikes from Harrison Kempston, Rolando Onu and an own goal sealed victory for the young Whites.

Academy manager Sandmann said on the win: “I thought we played ok in the first half, but we lacked that quality needed in the final third.  In the second half I feel we showed real intent in our play and caused Dartford a lot of problems.

“We limited them to very few chances and outworked them which was really pleasing to see. Dartford are a good team and you can see why they are up at the top, but all credit to our players today.”

Elsewhere, Squad Two made it three unbeaten as they beat Burgess Hill 4-1 at home.

Sandmann said: “It was another impressive display from the boys and I’m pleased that their hard work is now finally paying off.”

Meanwhile, the Development Squad also impressed as they continued on from last week’s 6-5 win against Halley to reach the final of the Kent Schools Academy League Cup, by beating Harris Academy 3-0.

A special mention also to Charlie Meade who scored on his debut for Ramsgate on Tuesday night in their 4-0 Kent Senior Cup win against Ebbsfleet United.

About the academy player, Sandmann added: “Charlie is gaining some valuable experience at senior football and we look forward to seeing more goals from him in the future.”



It was a happy New Year for the academy as Tuesday night’s Kent Senior Cup game against Faversham Town saw five of Mike Sandmann’s youngsters make their first team debuts.

Harrison Pont and Will Moses played the full 90 minutes of Athletic’s 4-2 Kent Senior Cup second round win at Salters Lane, with Harrison Kempston, Zack Jobe and Bepe Paldon also making their bow for Dover as substitutes.

About the first-team debutants, academy manager Sandmann said: “It was fantastic experience for them.  We want to get as many of our lads experience playing men’s football and learning off other experienced players will only continue to aid their development.”

Elsewhere, Squad One lost their first game of the season as they succumbed to a tight 2-1 defeat against Bromley.  With the scores level at one apiece, young Whites missed a spot-kick with the Ravens going on to win the match.

Sandmann said:  “We had our chances and missed a penalty when it was still 1-1.  It just wasn’t our day and all credit to Bromley who deserved the win.

“It’s the first time we have lost a league game in over a year and a half.  I believe this defeat is something the players need as a group and I am looking forward to seeing how they respond against Eastleigh next week in the cup.

“We know Eastleigh well as we played them in the Champions of Champions final in May and they are still unbeaten this season, so we know it’s going to be a tough game.”

Meanwhile, it was a happier start to 2020 for Squad Two as they picked up their first back-to-back victories of the season with a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace.

A goal each from George Young and David Igbedion secured the result for the youngsters.

Sandmann said: “The players are working really hard and after a tough start, their resilience is paying off and we are really pleased about that.”

If anyone is interested in joining the Academy please get in contact with for details of our upcoming trials.



Squad One bid farewell to 2019 with a 3-0 victory against Hampton & Richmond to remain unbeaten in the National League South Division

Kumiranshe Bepe’s spot-kick was followed by goals from Rolando Onu and George Nikaj to hand White’s youngsters yet another victory.

Academy manager Mike Sandmann said: “It’s been a good start to the season.  Being unbeaten is great for the boys, but I have been more impressed with our tough to beat mentality which comes from how hard the players are prepared to work off the ball.

“We have conceded just three goals in six games, which shows our desire to defend as well as score goals.

“The division is so much more competitive this season, which will only help the players develop.”

Meanwhile, Squad Two picked up their first win of the campaign, beating Ebbsfleet United 3-2 despite trailing twice.

Two goals from Charlie Meade and Franky Nwaokolo secured a much-deserved victory.

Sandmann said: “That sort of result has been coming for weeks and I’m so pleased for the boys.  We always knew this season would be tough for them, but their work ethic and determination has been excellent and we are hoping they will continue to improve.”

Overall it has been a fantastic 2019 for the Academy.  Squad One have gone the whole year, unbeaten in the National Youth League and were also crowned ‘Champions of Champions’ in May, plus PGMOL VAR Champions at St George’s Park in June.

Some players made their debut for the first team in the Kent Senior Cup, with Marshall Wratten rewarded for his academy performances with a full-time contract.  Ryan Kingsford was the pick of the players who gained full scholarships to America and was voted player of the season in the US.

Some of our youngsters have also gone out on loan to help them gain valuable experience and each year the Academy continues to go from strength to strength.

We all look forward to 2020 and from everyone at the academy, we wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.


Squad One remain unbeaten in the National League South Division follwing a 3-0 home victory against Boreham Wood.

Goals from Rolando Onu, Alex Green and Bepe Paldon handed Whites’ youngsters an emphatic victory against a side also unbeaten prior to the match.

Both teams struggled to create any real chances early on, however Dover opened the scoring when Harrison Pont’s quick throw-in caught the Boreham Wood defence off guard, allowing Onu to fire home.

Athletic’s defence continued to limit Boreham Wood to few chances and doubled their lead with 15 minutes remaining when Green connected with Paldon’s cross.

Paldon was in the action again, making it three following some fantastic individual skill inside the penalty area.

After watching his side’s victory, academy manager Mike Sandmann said: “ I was really pleased with the performance today and the shape and structure of the team made it very difficult for them to create any chances or get a foothold in the game.

“We played some good football going forward and more than deserved the victory.  It’s good to see the group keep a clean sheet against a decent side.

“I believe we outworked them from minute one until the end which is pleasing. The team’s work ethic is fantastic and I’m glad they are getting their rewards.

“It’s great to remain unbeaten in the league and to only concede three goals in the five games.”

Meanwhile, the Development squad progressed to the semi-final of the Kent Schools Academies Cup thanks to a 3-1 away win against Hugh Christie (Tonbridge Angels).

Two strikes from George Nikaj, as well as a goal from George Young, sealed Whites’ spot in the final four.


Squad One continued their unbeaten start to the National Youth League South Division with a 3-1 victory away from home against Oxford City.

Two goals from Zack Jobe and another from Harrison Kempston inside the first 25 minutes was enough to seal the three points, however Mike Sandmann wasn’t completely satisfied with his side’s performance against the Hoops.

The academy boss said: “We made a good start to the game but became sloppy in the final third and didn’t show the same quality as in recent weeks.

“It’s difficult when you start so well and get yourself in front comfortably as you want to maintain a tempo, but unfortunately we dropped off and it became quite a non-event for the rest of the game.

“It’s pleasing to still be unbeaten, but we need to keep improving performances week to week.”

Meanwhile, Squad Two are still searching for their first win of the season after a 5-3 defeat against Phoenix.

The young side, who came into the game off the back of a 2-0 defeat against Tonbridge Academy last week, were ahead at the break, only to fall behind in the second half.

Sandmann said of Squad Two’s result:  “We always knew it was going to be a big ask this season but I have been pleased with some of their performances, especially away to unbeaten Tonbridge last week, a game we deserved more from.”

“The lads will keep working hard and will keep learning from mistakes in a campaign that is going to be challenging for them.”

The Development team won 4-0 away to Ravenswood School, rounding off a good week after their 7-0 win against Northfleet School in the cup last week.

Two goals from Frankie Nwaokolo, as well as a goal each for Samuel Itauma and Jack Rossi saw the youngsters romp to victory.

Sandmann said of the development squad: “It was a pleasing afternoon for them.  The lads played some really good football and are showing real positive signs of improvement.”



Dover Athletic’s academy were beaten 5-0 in the FA Youth Cup by Hanworth Villa at Crabble on Wednesday night, but the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story.

With the visitors one goal ahead early in the second half, Young Whites’ skipper Hayden Wood was sent off for a foul on the edge of the area after being deemed to be the last man by the referee.

Villa scored the resultant free-kick to double their lead, before going on to score three more times.

Academy boss Mike Sandmann said after the tie: “I’m really disappointed with the scoreline,  but a massive decision has really changed the outcome of the game.  It is easy to stand here and criticise, but it is a massive turning point as they scored from the set-piece.

“The officials said it was an obvious goalscoring opportunity, however their player took his touch away from goal, is outside the box and there is a covering defender, so how he can give a straight red card I’ll never know.  It’s a big moment which I think ruined what was a very good game up until that point.”

Harrison Kempston twice nearly put Athletic in front, early on, volleying wide from outside the area and then seeing a shot well saved.

The away side then took control and despite the heavy scoreline, Sandmann took plenty of positives from the cup loss.

“Gaps will open up when it is 10 v 11, but I thought the boys still tried to play and move the ball.

“Before the break, I thought we were on the front foot and played most of the football in their half.  We started well following the restart and thought we would find a way back into the game if we keep putting pressure on their backline.  It all goes back to the red card which changed the momentum of the match.”

Whites also lost goalkeeper Magnus Lewis to injury moments before Hanworth Villa’s second goal.  “It looks like a groin strain”, said Sandmann.  “Magnus felt it in the first half and though it is never good to lose your keeper, it is just one of many things that did not go our way tonight.”


Due to recent poor weather conditions, Monday evening’s FA Youth Cup match against Hanworth Villa has been postponed.

A new date for the tie will be announced in due course.


Dover Athletic’s academy moved into the FA Youth Cup Third Qualifying round on Wednesday evening, beating Tonbridge Angels 4-2 on penalties at Crabble.

Harrison Pont (Pictured) netted deep into injury-time to make it 2-2 and take the tie into extra time after Athletic’s youngsters had twice fallen behind in the game through strikes from Tonbridge’s Harry Hudson and Ned Lewis.

However, Mike Sandmann took few positives from the shootout victory.

The academy boss said after the game, “I thought that we were really poor last night and I was really disappointed with the performance.  I think the occasion got the better of too many of my players.

“It was hard for me to be positive after that, even though the lads got themselves back into the game, because I was so disappointed.”

However, despite his displeasure at what he witnessed from his side, Sandmann believes his young charges will be better in the next round.

“It’s certainly a learning curve for the next round.  Sometimes the first game is always the toughest and I want us to bounce back with a positive performance.”

Sandmann knew his team were moving into the next round when Pont levelled in injury-time.

“Football has a strange way of coming around and giving teams luck.  We literally equalised with the last kick of the game and at that point I knew we would go on and win the game.” he said.

“We didn’t look like scoring and were not causing them many problems, but when we scored a goal like that in the last minute I could not help but feel that tonight was going to be our night.”

Sandmann also praised 16-year-old Will Moses for setting up the second goal before he came off injured. “Moses was excellent all night for someone so young.  He put in a fantastic performance and it is a shame he had to come off towards the end with a head injury”.

The draw for the FA Youth Cup Third Qualifying Round takes place on Monday 7th October.

Story by Ryan Clark