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19 May 2023



19 May 2023

Ahead of our U18s’ Professional Development League play-off final against Charlton Athletic on Saturday afternoon, Nicky Eaden says morale is high within the camp.

The young Reds overcame Millwall last weekend courtesy of Emmaisa Nzondo’s dramatic late winner, demonstrating the character and determination that has been prevalent all campaign.

“The mood is good; it’s similar to what it has been all season,” discussed Eaden. “Against Millwall, we weren’t at our best in the first half, which has been a bit of a theme throughout the season, but we kind of know that we’ll come strong in the second half of games – which we did.

“We were on top for long periods in that second half. We were hoping to score a bit earlier than we did, but as it turns out, if you get a late winner like that, there’s no way back for Millwall.”

Like Barnsley, the Addicks won their respective league, and both sides scored more than 80 goals in what has been a tremendous season.

Our U18s ran out 3-2 winners when Charlton visited South Yorkshire at the end of April, and Eaden feels it will be another entertaining encounter.

“Both teams have shown over the course of the season, by finishing top, we have been the two best teams in the league,” he stated.

“Charlton have scored plenty of goals, as we have, and when they came and played us on the last game of the season, I thought they’re probably the best team we’ve played this season. 

“The way they play and the way we play might be slightly different, but it’s been about winning games and both teams have managed to do that on different occasions and score plenty of goals along the way.”

Back out on the main Oakwell pitch, the young Reds will take confidence knowing they have won all three fixtures on there this season, putting Spennymoor Town, Scunthorpe United and latterly Millwall to the sword.

It’s a big occasion for our fledgling group as they aim to create history, and Eaden wants his side to build on their semi-final victory.

“I’m expecting a real big test on Saturday,” continued our U18s coach. “It’ll be who deals with the occasion the best; it’s a big game for it lads – it’s on Oakwell with a big crowd there, so whoever deals best with it.

 “I’m glad we got the Millwall game on here because, other than that, we’ve only had the FA Youth Cup games on Oakwell, so it’s a different experience for the lads, but something they’ve got to get used to.

“I think they can take confidence from the second half performance that it’s not something to be daunted by.”

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