Paul Heckingbottom’s Under 21s side played out a 0-0 draw away at Harrogate Town in sizzling hot conditions on Saturday, kicking off their pre-season campaign with plenty of positives to take back to Oakwell...writes Tom Horner.
The game proved to be a perfect gauge of the young players’ fitness and a chance for the side to compete with a Harrogate Town team full of experienced first-team regulars.
“It was a totally different experience for the lads,” said Heckingbottom.
“I’m pleased with everything about it. There was a good tempo to the game, even though the weather was stifling.
“They (Harrogate Town) were a good quality opposition. I was interested to see how the lads dealt with a physical presence. Physically the lads competed really well. They also passed the ball well,” he added.
The Reds dominated possession early on, commanding the middle of the park through their mid-field. Although neither team managed to break the deadlock, the young Tykes seemed on top - testing the Harrogate keeper on a number of occasions and forcing some smart saves before the interval.
In the second half central midfielder Brad Abbott came closest for the Reds, with his effort striking the underside of the cross bar from outside the area. Both teams then settled down in the closing stages of the game, prompting Heckingbottom and his staff to introduce some fresh legs.
The Tykes made several changes just after the hour mark, giving equal opportunity for all who travelled up from South Yorkshire.
“Huge credit to the young boys who came on,” added Heckingbottom. “We made six or seven subs and our tempo upped again.”
With a hefty pre-season schedule now underway, including games against fellow Conference sides Gainsborough Trinity, Eastwood Town and Halifax Town, the Under 21s have plenty to focus on in the up-and-coming weeks.
“They can see their efforts are paying off. Now the games have started it’s better for everyone. Everyone’s pleased.”
Barnsley U21s: Dibble, Lacey, Smith, Scott (McKnight), Salt, Boland (Biggins), Joyce(Pilkington), Shillito (Sousa), Oates (Tunnecliffe),Abbott,Knight © (Clarkson).
Subs not used: Chadderton
Heckingbottom's side are next in action this Thursday, away to Gainsborough Trinity - kicking off at 7:30pm.