Speaking after our U18s 2-1 victory against Peterborough United on Saturday, Head Coach Tom Harban expressed his delight at the young Reds’ thrilling win that saw them get back to winning ways.
A Fabio Jalo edge of the box curler and Danny Bensons poachers’ instinct finish were enough for the three points and puts Barnsley back on track after a difficult few weeks.
“I just wanted a reaction after the last couple of weeks,” began Harban. “I was disappointed in terms of the performance last week – a couple of the lads got left out, but that’s part of football; when you’re performing you need to be performing every week.
“I thought we started off the game really slow, a couple of sloppy incidents and situations that we got ourselves into, but I think after that initial 10-15 minutes we grew into the game played some really good football, got into some good attacking areas and created good opportunities.
“Whether they were clear chances at goal or not, but just asking to get into certain areas of the pitch, lads to make certain runs and I think they executed the gameplan quite well in the first half. I thought as a group they were excellent; Theo Chapman was really good with and without the ball had a couple of good opportunities himself.”
In the second half, Harban tweaked the system ever so slightly, moving midfielder Charlie Hickingbottom into a back three and replacing the two starting Trialists.
Our U18s coach believes Hickingbottom has excelled in his defensive duties of late and his versatility is an option that can be used going forward.
“Charlie has played in a back three before – obviously a lot this season for us,” continued Harban. “He came to the club as a midfielder and I just thought after an hour the two trialists they haven’t played a lot of football this season they were starting to look a little bit leggy and a bit lethargic but I thought in the best interest of them and for the team at the time it was the best thing to do in terms of making the change.”
Keegan Hartley was a standout player and Harban was delighted with the way he played and his progression this campaign.
“His development has been superb this season because he missed a full season of football last time through injury and it’s a long time at that age so for him to come back,” he praised. “He has got to the point now were physically he is excellent, and he sets everything off for us in terms of the tempo the aggression the pressing that we want from the front areas.
“At the minute he kind of epitomises what we are about everyone sees him because of the energy and how industrious he is but it is reflected in the whole group based off the back of what he does.”
With only seven games left of the campaign, the Reds are currently involved in a four-way tussle for the two coveted play-off spots.
Coventry City currently lead the way, with South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday also battling hard to end the season strongly.
“We have got lads that want to push from the under 16s and get into this team,” stated Harban “Obviously, Fabio has played a lot of games with us this season, Raf got involved last week and was on our bench again Rogan Ravenhill has played a few games so they pushing to be involved in the 18s.
“But the group is strong; they have performed well for the vast majority of the season. Ideally, we want to try and push for the top two as much as we can – it’s not in our hands obviously, but if we can just keep pressure on the teams around us then that’s all we can do, but they have been excellent this season.”