Barnsley U23s coach Paul Harsley stressed that player development is more important than results following his team’s 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Friday.
The young Reds were the better side for large periods of the game and were unfazed by the Eagles, who came to Oakwell as the Professional Development League South leaders.
“I’ve always said since I came that we’re not here for results; our primary focus is the development of the players,” insisted Harsley.
"For the last six weeks we’ve played with a very young team against a lot more experienced players, so it’s been a really tough few weeks and that may well continue to the end of the season.
"But that was really pleasing; we’re at Barnsley to try and push players on to the first team and develop them - which we’ve done. We’ve got lads out on loan in the Football League. So that’s our aim, rather than trying to win the league.
“We’ve had a different team all season - I don’t think we’ve ever had the same 11, and that’s because of how we do it at Barnsley; we try to push individuals rather than the team.
"The team isn’t going to win the league, but the individuals will get the opportunity to go on at Barnsley and get opportunities around the first team. So there’s two different ways of looking at it, and that’s how we do it and I personally think that’s the best way.”
Barnsley ended a run of four straight defeats against Richard Shaw’s Palace side, but on another day it could have been a different story had the young Reds found that clinical edge in front of goal.
Top scorer Victor Adeboyejo hit the post midway through the first half, Amir Berkovits saw his shot well saved by Joe Tupper, while Jack Hunter and Louis Wardle both had efforts blocked by a resolute visiting backline.
“I think we created the better opportunities - not that many, but the better ones,” continued Harsley. "But I think with a little bit of quality in the last pass we’d have gone on and won the game, so it’s pleasing.
“They [Crystal Palace] are top of their league; they’ve got a lot of athletic players, you can see that. They were dangerous on the counter attack and that was the way they were probably going to score.
"The lads acquitted themselves really well and, more importantly, what we worked on in training and what we talked about through the analysis - what we look at - they’ve started putting into plan out there, which is the most pleasing thing for me.”
The young Reds became only the fourth team to stop Shaw’s side from hitting the back of the net this season, with Millwall, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday also keeping clean sheets.
Two players in particular who caught the eye were central defensive duo Adam Lund and captain Will Smith, who were integral to keeping a free-scoring Palace side at bay.
“They’ve played together for quite a few years now, certainly since I’ve been here,” said Harsley. "They were in the under 18s as a partnership and we took them both last year.
"They weren’t really caused any problems and, going into the game, we thought we probably would be caused problems. So they’ve controlled that defence really well.”