Brentford U21s 4
Barnsley U21s 2
An extremely young Reds side travelled south yesterday to play a Brentford side that fielded players with much more senior experience, and put up a good fight despite being on the wrong end of the score-line.
The Reds made plenty of changes to previous under 21 squads, which saw many of the under 18s make the step up to a higher level.
The game began with Brentford opening the scoring quickly through striker Bradley Clayton, as he latched onto a ball over the top and chipped it over Arron Murphy. Despite being comfortable on the ball, the young Barnsley side struggled for chances on goal and were punished when Clayton scored his second of the match after tapping in a rebound from close range.
Shortly after the break, James Carvell pulled one back for the Reds with an excellent finish as he went round Ellery Balcombe in the Bees’ net and slotted home. Straight after Carvell’s goal, his strike partner Brad Ash had a big chance to equalise but his shot went agonisingly wide.
Another couple of chances followed, but again the Reds were punished when Nathan Ross scored a freak goal as his cross evaded everyone and nestled into the bottom corner. Shots on goal were then exchanged from both teams, however, it was the home side that went further in front with 20 minutes remaining through Herson Alves, who found space in the box to score and extend the lead to 4-1.
There were a couple of late chances for the Reds as Jack Cowgill had a header well saved, but Balcombe stood firm. With just moments remaining Charlie Harris scored for the second game running, as he curled home a free-kick from the edge of the area to make it 4-2. The referee’s full time whistle blew shortly after, to end an entertaining game.
Head of Academy Coaching Mark Burton gave his thoughts on the display.
He said, “We were very inexperienced on the day. We had under 18s and a few trialists, who replaced six of the team that played in the win at Watford last week, so it was always going to be difficult.
“We got a good goal back through James Carvell who had a good game, then Brad Ash had a good chance to make it 2-2 but he put it just wide. Charlie Harris pulled another back with a good free kick but then the game finished.
“We were much better in the second half, showing more courage and determination. We got on the ball and tried to play. We finished the game with four 17 year olds and two 16 year olds, so it’s a learning experience for them and that’s what it’s all about.”
Reds XI: Murphy (GK), Wardle, Jeffs, Cowgill (c), Cleet, Kay, Amoo, Harris, Ash, Alton, Carvell.
Subs: Maxwell, Smith, Bird, Gleatolex.