Martin Devaney praised his players’ attitude and approach despite Barnsley U23s succumbing to defeat against Coventry City on Monday afternoon.
The young Reds suffered a 2-1 loss at last season’s Professional Development League semi-finalists, but were perhaps the better side for large parts of the encounter.
Jordan Barnett’s late consolation wasn’t enough for Barnsley, who had fallen behind to goals from Will Bapaga and Max Biamou either side of the interval.
“We’re going to lose games and we’re going to win games, but in terms of their attitude they never gave up; they kept trying to play the right way, which we’ve worked on,” said Devaney.
“We got the goal, which we deserved, but it’s disappointing to at least not come away with a point.
“It’s never nice to lose on the first game of the season, especially after the pre-season we’ve had. The players applied themselves well but I think, in the end, their experience – the four or five senior squad players that they had playing – just showed.
“It was a good learning curve for some of the lads, playing against players who have plenty of league experience under their belts.”
The young Reds were denied on numerous occasions by Coventry stopper Tom Billson, who was in inspired form at the Alan Higgs Centre.
Sam Fielding, Aiden Marsh, Rudi Pache, Elliot Simoes and Chris Sang were all denied by the 18-year-old, but Devaney was encouraged by his side’s attacking play, which, on another day, could have got the rewards it deserved.
“We were the better team and played the better football, but when you’re on top you need to take your chances,” continued the U23s coach. “There was probably a 20 minute spell where we should have scored, but then, ultimately, a lack of experience cost us.
“Between both boxes, the build-up play and movement was good, our patterns and possession retention was really good and, on the transition when we did lose the ball, I thought we controlled central areas and they didn’t really look a threat.
“But the final ball and finish wasn’t really there, and we just lacked that bit of quality in the final third.”