Melton Foxes Under 18s began their Premiership campaign against last season’s U17 champions AFC Andrews and earned a share of the spoils.
With holidays, work commitments and a squad including four 16-year-olds the newly-promoted Foxes faced a tough task and defender George Wilkinson did well to dispossess their right winger as he raced clear, and seconds later broke up another dangerous attack.
He was then instrumental in giving Foxes the lead, breaking up another attack before crossing from the left for Adam Lomas to race in and place the bouncing ball past the keeper.
Two minutes later the Foxes nearly went further ahead, when Alex Horobin headed Alex Walker’s free-kick across the face of goal and Shaun Smith fired narrowly over.
Foxes were having a fair share of the play and two corners in succession kept them in the driving seat with Walker, Carroll and Thorpe tireless in midfield.
Walker’s 20-yard effort flash wide before Smith put Steans clear on the left, but hesitated and Andrews cleared the danger.
Andrews started the second half the better, with the wind in their favour, and within seconds keeper Chris Lovegrove made a diving save to keep the lead intact.
But the visitors levelled from the next attack when a corner was floated to the far post where their tall defender headed in.
Despite the setback Melton responded well and within a minute had regained the lead. Horobin won another challenge before feeding Bradley Carroll who put Smith through on the left of goal and the sharpshooter fired in from 12 yards.
Andrews were level again in the 55th minute when Lovegrove dived to field a long through ball, but the ball slipped away from him and gave the visitors a tap-in.
Andrews looked the more positive side, but Foxes also threatened with Smith racing onto a Dawkins pass and rounding the keeper before planting his final effort wide.
Substitute Marcus Rowland was soon making his mark and again the Foxes squandered another chance when Rowland ran to the byline and sent in a superb low cross which Smith missed and Steans fired wide.
Melton’s defence came under pressure in the last few minutes, but they defended stubbornly to see out the game.
Foxes: C. Lovegrove, A. Kotarba, A. Horobin, J. Dawkins, G. Wilkinson, A. Lomas, A. Walker, L. Thorpe, B. Carroll, C. Steans, S. Smith, M. Rowland, A. Doherty.