Barnsley U18s travel to Chester on Thursday evening looking to progress to the second round of the FA Youth Cup.
The young Reds will be hoping to put the weekend’s heavy South Yorkshire defeat to Sheffield Wednesday firmly behind them in order to set up a clash with either Mansfield Town or Grimsby Town.
“I think we took more out of Saturday’s loss than we probably have the previous few weeks of wins and positive performances,”said U18s coach Adam Murray. “We came in on Sunday and spent two hours having a debrief and going over the game – we turned a lot of negatives into positives and learning outcomes, and I think we’re stronger for that experience.”
Barnsley trailed 6-0 at the interval against the Owls, but managed to keep the visitors from adding to their tally in the second half on a tough morning at the Oakwell Training Complex.
It was exactly the sort of reaction that Murray and Tom Harban were looking for, and the Reds can now build on that solid 45 minutes heading into Thursday’s cup fixture.
“The second half performance is what we expect,”continued Murray. “This group has put itself on a little bit of a pedestal in terms of performances over the last six or seven weeks, so what we got in the second half against Sheffield Wednesday was the basics of what we expect from the group.
“It was a very gritty, aggressive display and, if we had started like that, I think the score line would have been a lot different.”
Chester have beaten Sandbach United, Marine FC, Wrexham and Hartlepool United to reach this stage of the competition – scoring 18 goals and conceding just five in the process.
Academy Head Coach Calum McIntyre has got the Blues playing an exciting brand of football, and Murray is under no illusion to the task at hand when his side travel to Swansway Chester Stadium.
“They’re a very good team with a tradition of doing well in cup competitions,”insisted the U18s coach. “They’ve already had four games in this competition and beat higher league opponents, so they’ll have an edge on us in terms of playing in bigger games.
“Some of our boys have never played in front of crowds, so Chester will have the edge. I think they’ll probably make out that they’re the underdogs for the tie, but playing at home and having the crowd behind them will balance it out a bit, and they’ve experienced that before.
“They’re a very organised team, hard-working and have an x-factor in there in terms of players who have played for their first team which, at that age, is no mean feat at any level. So we’re under no illusion that it’s going to be a tough game and we know that, to get anything from the game, we’re going to have to be on top form.
“We’ve watched them three or four times now and they’ll compete – they’ll challenge for every percentage ball on the pitch and we’ll have to match that. They put four past Hartlepool and had a really good game, so we know it’s going to be a tough game. There’s pressure from the fans to play in a certain way and it’s a very big club for the level that they’re currently at.
“We’ll go there with confidence; we’ve had a good few weeks – results haven’t gone our way, but performances have been good and we’re looking forward to this game.”
You can find out how our U18s get on by watching the game at the Swansway Chester Stadium or by following the action on our official Academy Twitter account: AcademyBFC.