HARWICH and Parkeston boss Kieron Shelley believes the club's sound structure - a thriving youth section feeding into the reserves and first team - can provide solid foundations for years to come.

The club now boast a conveyor-belt of talent and there were strong signs of that in Saturday's pre-season friendly victory against Leiston Reserves.

The likes of Ross Purll, Elliott Fay and Kieron Watkinson all featured in an eye-catching 6-2 victory at the Gwinnell & Sons Royal Oak.

Shelley believes the young talent at the club's disposal can only be a positive thing moving forward.

"Praise has to go to the likes of Chris Smith (Harwich's vice-chairman who was previously chairman of Dovercourt Vipers Youth Football Club) and (reserve-team manager) Gavin Hewitt," said the Shrimpers boss.

"It means we've got some very good youngsters at our disposal and in order to kick on, these boys need to be in and around the first team.

"The youth set-up has been an absolute godsend and how great that we can throw in so many of the youngsters as we did on Saturday?

"Some of them have trained for us but never played in a first-team fixture.

"However, Gavin's on the same page as us so he's drilled in the importance of work-rate - on and off the ball - and doing the basics right.

"That's an important part of the club's ethos - at first team level, at reserve level and below that.

"We're all singing from the same hymn sheet and that was a big reason why we went into Saturday's fixture with effectively a reserve side and still won 6-2.

"It's testament to everyone at the club - and I mean everyone - for all pulling in the same direction."

Harwich and Dovercourt Vipers joined forces and merged in June 2017.

The move has already given hundreds of youngsters in the town a clear pathway from youth football into the men's game.

The Vipers had been a feeder club for their senior neighbours for two years but then fully amalgamated.

Shelley believes the move is paying handsome dividends already.

"Had we brought in five or six reserve players this time last year and said 'come and show us what you can do' we wouldn't have got a score like we saw on Saturday," he said.

"Heads might have gone down if something had gone wrong.

"Now the mentality is different and it shows the progress we've made.

"It's happening throughout the whole club and brilliant to see."