LITTLE Oakley manager Matt Carmichael believes his club have the "perfect combination" of a thriving youth set-up and successful first team.

The Acorns are riding high in Thurlow Nunn League division one south, having lost just one of their last nine first fixtures heading into tomorrow's crunch clash against title-chasing Halstead Town.

It promises to be a mouth-watering contest at the Memorial Ground (kick-off 3pm).

However, Carmichael believes the club's success is about far more than the senior team.

He says the youth section is "vibrant" and with the club's new academy up and running, he feels the future looks bright.

"It's a perfect combination for any club to have a vibrant, thriving youth set-up and a successful first team that are trying to do things the right way," said Carmichael.

"There's a buzz around the whole club and I experience that not just on a Saturday afternoon but also on Sunday mornings.

"I went over for a couple of hours the other week and there must have been ten youth matches going on.

"It felt so vibrant and all within a stone's throw of the clubhouse, which is unique for a village club.

"I'm sure a lot of clubs would love a set-up like that.

"There was an amazing atmosphere and probably 250 people over there. Everyone knows each other and is proud to be associated with Oakley."

Carmichael and his management team are making a "concerted effort" to communicate and work with the club's young sides, to help smooth the pathway from junior to senior football.

"It's important to take notice and have a presence within the youth set-up, because an awful lot of important work goes on before you get to the first team," he said.

"We're making a concerted effort to get out there and watch games, meet the coaches and talk about the best way forward.

"It's about sharing the same philosophy and laying foundations for the future.

"I watched an academy game the other night and thought 'some of these boys will be in my first team soon'.

"They're certainly good enough, with the right character and attitude.

"It's an exciting challenge for them and having that clear pathway, from the little ones through to the first team, is helping create a culture that can only be good for the future of Little Oakley."

Oakley were left kicking their heels last weekend following the postponement of their scheduled fixture at Hackney Wick.

The game was called off due to the home club’s venue not being available, because they groundshare with Clapton.