BARNSLEY under 18s have been praised for a history-making season and backed to learn from their 3-2 play-off loss at Charlton Athletic, who came from 2-0 down with two injury-time goals.
The young Reds – who were in the play-offs for the first time after finishing second in their league – led 2-0 through a fine Fabio Jalo brace early in the second half on Saturday at The Valley. But Charlton scored in the 78th, 93rd and 96th minutes to reach the final.
Academy manager Bobby Hassell said: “The atmosphere and emotions of the game will be something the players have never experienced before. The home fans were singing ‘2-0 up and you’ve F-ed it up’. I told them they will learn from that experience.
“We are all gutted but I am unbelievably proud of the lads.
"We know we should have won, but it was a great learning experience.
“We have mainly had first year scholars or under 16s playing all season and we’ve had our highest ever points total and got in the play-offs for the first time.
“We had a goal disallowed at 0-0 which was debatable then we scored two goals and managed the game well. But the lads got tired and made mistakes, plus we had some key injuries which meant we had to play players out of position. That cost us the goals. Their first goal was a blatant foul.”
Hassell praised under 18s coach Tom Harban for his work this season.
“Tom has been brilliant. He gets better each year. His teams are well-drilled and he gives out first class information to the players on the press and counter-press which is the club philosophy.
“I’ve told him for the last two years that he shouldn’t rule out being a first team manager. I see the right temperament and characteristics for him to go far.”