Martin Devaney praised his U23s side following their 2-2 draw with Stoke City on Friday afternoon.
The young Reds put in a fantastic display against their Category 1 visitors at the Oakwell Training Ground and were perhaps unfortunate not to claim an impressive victory.
“I’m really pleased with the performance,” said Devaney. “The way we started the game – the first 20 minutes – is the identity we’ve created. We should have scored three or four, but we can talk about being ruthless to the lads over the next few days.
“With them being a Category 1 academy, they’ve got a lot of quality within their team and they came into the game. The lads tired towards the end – but they’re going to, because you can’t press like that for 90 minutes, but they dealt with it really well and it was a good challenge with the quality of players they’ve got. But, to a man, I thought the lads were outstanding.”
Goals from Elliot Simoes and Alex Wollerton gave Barnsley a 2-0 lead inside the opening nine minutes, but Stoke hit back either side of the interval to claim a draw.
The Reds implemented their high-pressing philosophy to devastating effect and perhaps should have been further ahead before the visitors managed to grab a foothold in the game.
“Stoke started slowly and we impacted ourselves on them and took the game to them really early,” continued Devaney. “The first goal was a great little through ball for Elliot to round the goalkeeper and he’s shown good composure to score, and Alex has taken the second goal really well.
“The lads know their roles and responsibilities. We do a lot of work in training on different scenarios and how we’re going to react on the pitch. They know, sometimes, that teams might have the quality to play through the press, but we’re willing to do it as a team.”
It has been a productive summer for the U23s, who have played an exciting, dynamic brand of football and been free-scoring in their pre-season outings.
They have continued their form from the previous term and look set to carry it into the upcoming Professional Development League campaign, which kicks off at Coventry City on Monday 12 August.
“We’ve had a really good pre-season; the lads are looking fit and they’ve done everything I’ve asked of them,” insisted Devaney. “Confidence is high and we’re on this good winning streak that we’ve carried on from last season, so we’ll do everything between now and the start of the season to make sure we’re ready for Coventry.
“It’ll be a tough game; Coventry are always a good footballing team – they like to try and play through and have good movement. But we’ll be ready for it and it’s a challenge that we’re ready to take on.”