Wood Academy graduate Fred Burbidge was bittersweet following his FA Trophy debut, against Blyth Spartans.

The Wood stopper came into the side in place of Ryan Huddart against the National League North outfit, in a massive moment for both himself and the PASE Academy.

The 19-year-old explained his emotions, following the final whistle, he said: “It felt wonderful, I have been waiting for this chance and it all happened so quickly.

“The game just felt like it went past in a snap. It is a great feeling to be walking out alongside Mark Ricketts, Tom Champion, Keiran Murtagh, Jamal Fyfield and Dave Stephens.

“It is just a massive confidence boost for me personally, and I know the result didn’t go our way, but I think for me, it was a good day.”

Burbidge has been in and around the Wood’s first team for more than 18 months now, having first joined the club, as part of Cameron Mawer and Charlie Hunter’s Under 16s.

A regular name on the Wood bench, he has previously featured in pre-season friendlies and in the Herts Senior Cup, but this was his biggest game to date.

He continued: “On Thursday morning, we done training as usual and then I got a phone call in the evening from the gaffer, telling me that I was in. Obviously, I prepare properly every week, as you should, but I was on point this week, in terms of my match prep.

“The boys got right around me and I felt so at home, it didn’t feel like I was playing under 19s, I was playing men’s football.

“Every day I walk in through the door for training and the lads all say; ‘You alright Fred,’ there is not one person in the team who I think doesn’t like me. It feels like everyone adores me and I adore everyone else.”

The Wood struggled to impose themselves against the in-form National League North outfit, and Burbidge explained that he learned a lot from the game.

“It was a massive learning curve for me. The wind killed me, and I think that is the first time that I have played in front of that many fans. I have got loads of Blyth Spartans fans behind me shouting all sorts of stuff.

“My first goal kick was okay, I think it was good, but then something was in my head and I think I needed to calm down. I came out for the second half and I felt a bit more confident, I’ve had a break and a chill down and listened to what the gaffer has had to say. I think that my second half performance was a lot better than the first.”

A close-range first half goal from Dan Maguire, his 150th for the club, settled the FA Trophy tie, with Blyth Spartans progressing into the next round.

“It was a very tough game, obviously we had travelled over five hours and you want to walk away with a win, but it was a tough game.

“They are 13/14 games unbeaten, so it was always going to be a tough match, travelling this far to a team who have a bit about them. They are obviously doing something right, as they are unbeaten.”

Burbidge was one of three PASE Academy graduates in the squad on Saturday, with Sorba Thomas starting on the wing and Alex Morgan on the bench, showcasing the opportunities that the club provide to young players.

The shot stopper has now turned his attention to getting more first team minutes.

“I think personally that it would mean more to make my National League debut, that would be the highlight of my season, if that was to happen. But, it is totally down to the gaffer now.

“I done what I could today, maybe I didn’t play as well as I could have done and obviously I wanted a win on my debut, but it is what it is, and I have just got to go again now.”

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