Speaking after our U18s’ heartbreaking FA Youth Cup exit at the hands of Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening, Tom Harban expressed his pride at their incredible performance having watched his side give everything they had.
These are often magical nights for our youngsters, and it was the first time Barnsley had been drawn at home in this competition since the 2016/17 campaign, and they certainly put on an exhibition for the onlooking Reds supporters, who braved the wind and rain at Oakwell.
“All I asked the lads before the game was to go out there and give everything you’ve got; 90 minutes, 120 minutes – whatever it’s going to be, just don’t leave anything out there,” said Harban.
“These competitions are big competitions for the boys and the last thing I wanted them to do is go out there and freeze and miss the opportunity to showcase what they’re capable of.
“So, for the performance they put on, I’m mega proud. I can’t be any prouder of them. They’ve left everything out there and we’re just unlucky with the result.”
We created plenty of goal scoring opportunities against our higher league opposition, who struggled to cope with the Reds’ high pressing philosophy for large parts of the encounter.
The pressure eventually told as Fabio Jalo rifled home the opener after strike partner Lloyd Smith had forced an error, and it was no less than our youngsters deserved for their endeavours.
“Even before he scored, I think we were quite comfortable in the game,” discussed Harban. “We had a couple of good chances in the first half and, when he scored, you just hope we can keep doing what we’re doing, don’t make any mistakes and see the game out.”
Unfortunately, though, Palace were awarded a somewhat dubious penalty shortly after Jalo had seen an effort cleared off the line, and once that spot-kick had been dispatched the visitors seized the initiative.
An agonising late goal saw the Eagles progress to the fourth round where they will host either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Salford City, but despite that kick in the teeth, Harban was thrilled with how his team acquitted themselves.
“When you play against these bigger clubs, Category One obviously spend a lot of money, you want those teams to leave knowing they’ve been in a game and they’ll leave knowing that,” asserted our U18s coach.
“I’ve said to the lads that they’ve been brilliant for the first half of the season. It’s disappointing to go out of the Youth Cup because it’s a big competition for these boys, but now they have to kick on and push to try and win the league because there’s a lot of teams competing.
“It’s tight, but they’ve got the potential and ability to go and perform week in, week out, and when they put the effort in, like they have done, they’ll have a chance.”
You can watch Tom’s full post-match interview for FREE on iFollow Barnsley.