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U23s | REACTION: Martin Devaney

17 February 2018

Martin Devaney praised his side’s work ethic following Barnsley U23s 3-1 defeat against Huddersfield Town on Friday afternoon.

The Reds were undone by two moments of brilliance from Alex Pritchard at the Oakwell Training Ground, with the multi-million pound January signing for the Premier League side netted two sensational second half goals.

A Rarmani Edmonds-Green header cancelled out Victor Adeboyejo’s early opener, before Pritchard stole the show after the interval with two strikes of utmost quality.

But, despite the loss, Devaney believes there were plenty of positives in the performance from a very young Barnsley side.

“In terms of their effort and desire, it was fine - I can’t knock their work effort,” said Devaney. "But, in terms of in possession; it’s got to be better. We were needlessly giving the ball away.

"The game plan was to sit back and maybe look to counter, but they just took that literally. Sometimes you’ve just got to keep the ball against a team that keeps possession like that. They’re a good side and, in terms of them, Pritchard was the difference in the end.

"We started off really well, got in at half-time at 1-1 which was really good. We probably had the better chances and they had more possession, and then in the second half Pritchard showed why he’s worth that kind of money - he was the difference on the day.

"In terms of us, we’ve got to be better in possession. When they go back with Paul [Harsley] they’ve got to challenge themselves and demand more from themselves to find that bit of quality. But I can’t knock the boys for their effort or commitment today; Pritchard in the end had too much quality.”

One player in particular who caught the eye was Louis Walsh, who was a thorn in the Terriers’ side all afternoon with his electric pace and direct running.

The youngster almost had an assist to his name early on as Kane Swinburn rattled the post, and continued to torment the visiting defence all afternoon. 

“He’s positive, he’s very direct and he’s quick - I think we’ve got a talent in there; he’s a good player,” purred Devaney. "He’s got to learn the defensive side, but we’ll get the best out of him.

“We had Kane who’s a winger playing in central midfield today because we’re short on numbers and a trialist playing at centre-back as well. Louis Walsh hasn’t been with us long so it’ll take him time to get used to how we play. So there were a few new bodies thrown in there, but overall it was a good performance.”

Devaney stepped into the U23s coaching role ahead of the 0-0 draw at Everton in the Premier League Cup last Friday.

The former Barnsley winger, who helped the Reds to promotion to the Championship via the play-offs in 2006, has enjoyed his step-up from the U18s team.

“It’s been good; it’s only been short lived,” continued Devaney. "I took over last Friday when the boys were excellent at Everton - to go away there was a fantastic result.

"It’s only been a couple of days this week so it’s been a quick turnaround. I’ve enjoyed it - it’s not that much different to the under 18s if I’m being honest.” 

New Reds Head Coach José Morais was in attendance after he took charge of first team training earlier in the day. 

The Portuguese has worked with José Mourinho at Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea, before going onto manage Greek outfit AEK Athens. 

“I’m really looking forward to working underneath him and hopefully getting up on the training ground to see some of his sessions,” said Devaney. "But it’s really positive for the club - exciting times.”

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