Martin Devaney heaped praise on Tai-Reece Chisholm following Barnsley U23s 3-2 victory over Guiseley AFC on Tuesday evening.
The young midfielder was instrumental throughout the game as he scored twice and assisted Amir Berkovits for a late winner at Nethermoor Park.
“It was fantastic for Tai; he’s been frustrated lately because he’s been in and out of the team, but we’ve been working on things this week,” said Devaney. “We’ve got into good areas in counter-attacking and finished his goals really well, and he’s assisted the third one with a good weight of pass and it’s a great finish from Amir.”
Former Barnsley striker Kayode Odejayi had given Guiseley an early lead before Chisholm’s brace, while defender Harry Flowers pulled the Lions level after half-time.
Devaney believes his side showed a great mentality to come from behind to win; a trait that could be beneficial heading into the new Professional Development League campaign.
“I said to the lads beforehand about the challenge of dealing with the physical side,” continued the U23s coach. “They’ve shown me that they can dig in and compete, and that will put us in good stead for the coming season and I’m really pleased with the character that they’ve shown to turn it around and get a winning performance.
“After ten minutes, the lads adjusted well – they didn’t try and compete with Kayode. Their two strikers were very strong and powerful, and good headers of the ball; that was their game plan, to play the long ball and get runners off them.
“Sam [Fielding] and Will [Smith] dropped, they recognised that they couldn’t compete with him and let Elvis [Otim] deal with that one so we could sweep the second ball.”
The U23s have acquitted themselves well over the course of pre-season, beating Northern Counties East outfit Hemsworth Miners Welfare before Tuesday’s victory over National League North side Guiseley.
Devaney feels his young team has coped well with the demands of competing against non-league set-ups, particularly the physical aspect and aerial bombardment.
“I’m really pleased; it was a physical challenge and the lads rose to that challenge really well in terms of set-pieces, long throws and corners – I know the goals came from corners, but in terms of how they applied themselves I’m really pleased,” said Devaney.
“In the last few games, the build-up play has been good and the movement is getting better, but on Tuesday, in terms of the counter-attack, it was great to see. The lads showed some great pace and found that bit of quality in the final third that we’ve been looking for in our pre-season games.”