Barnsley U18s secured local bragging rights with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Leeds United at Thorp Arch on Saturday.
The Reds went ahead when Kieran Feeney confidently converted a penalty, before the young striker double the lead when he fired home from close range.
Leeds hit back after the interval through Niall Huggins and had an opportunity to snatch a share of the spoils, but Henri Kumwenda’s strike was ruled out for offside.
The result sees Barnsley rise to seventh above Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers, who were beaten 2-1 by Sheffield United and 4-1 by Crewe Alexandra, respectively.
Speaking after the game, coach Adam Murray praised his team’s character and determination to come out on top against their local rivals.
“We made a huge point over the last week about local derbies and the importance they carry to the Club and supporters at every level,” said Murray. “They are very passionate encounters and great learning environments for the players.
“We had to stand tall at times and the players did just that. It’s important now that we re-focus for another tough game against Birmingham City next week.
“The character in the group is great to see and the players deserve credit for taking things on board. It’s a tough industry to survive in and we want to give the players the best skill set to do just that.
“It was very pleasing to go away to one of the biggest academies in our league and for the players to put in the performance that they did. We had to show real character and mental strength at times, and it was great for the players to get their reward.
“We had the better of the first half, so we were aware at some point they would have a period of the game, but we were prepared for that. The group spirit is very strong and with a back four made up of three first-years and an under 16 – it was an incredible effort.
“It could have been a lot easier if we had taken a number of good chances in the first half, but, in the end, we defended brilliantly.”
More importantly for the young Reds is the culmination of hard work on the training ground that has seen them adopt a similar approach to that of the first team.
The aim is to play a high-pressing, high-tempo brand of football and, while it may have taken time to implement, Murray believes his side are starting to reap the rewards.
“It’s a process that will hopefully get stronger as time goes on and work goes in,” continued the U18s coach. “It’s a totally different way of playing to what some of our lads have been used to over previous times so we have to be patient.
“We are seeing positive outcomes as individuals and as a group, which is really pleasing because we are a very young group so there will be ups and downs. The eagerness the players are showing to learn is great at the minute and that must continue to ensure they all progress.”
LEEDS XI: Rae, Burlace, Stanley (Shergill), Leak-Blunt, Casey, Kenneh, Hudson, Jenkins, Kumwenda, Haugland, Huggins
REDS XI: Trialist (Widdop), Hassan-Smith, Onoye, Pache, Calligan, Binns (Aleksiev), Greenfield (c), Helliwell, Trialist (Marsh), Feeney, Willard
Not used: Lancaster, Olatubosun