Following our U18s’ 2-1 defeat against Doncaster Rovers in the PDL Cup, coach Callum Gilmartin feels the Reds struggled to cope with the physical demands of the encounter.
There were five U16s in the starting line-up, while two U15s featured amongst the substitutes in what was a tricky assignment at the Oakwell Training Ground.
Our young side were unable to have an extended period of dominance but showed glimpses of quality throughout the game, with the most notable piece of action a Josiah Dyer headed goal from Ziggy Kozluk’s pinpoint cross.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games,” admitted Gilmartin. “Doncaster made it difficult for us from the off and it was up to our boys to match them as quickly as possible, which we failed to do at times.”
Despite the result, the coach was pleased to see a number of younger players given the opportunity to showcase their abilities in a higher age group, something the club have a rich history of.
“The scholarships were handed out this week and it was an opportunity for the boys to get a taste of what U18s football is like,” he explained. “It’s different, it’s competitive and it gives them the exposure to the winning mentality they need to progress into the Professional Development Phase and beyond.
“Being a few years younger than the players they were competing against gave them a tough physical challenge. In the younger age groups, they can often rely on their physical ability whereas against the U18s, they’ve got to adapt their game.
“They can’t always compete as well physically against the older players so they might have to take less touches and move the ball quicker whilst understanding the higher tempo of U18s football.
“Overall, it was a huge opportunity for the players and hopefully a massive learning curve. It was a great chance for them to learn from the U18s and understand the mentality that’s required from both the coaches and Barnsley as a football club. The lads now have a better understanding of the expectations and have been given a taster of what to expect in the Professional Development Phase next year.”