Ciaran Donnelly was proud of his side after they narrowly lost 1-0 to Fleetwood Town in the Lancashire Senior Cup at Poolfoot Farm.
The Academy Manager’s team, consisting of Under-18s, plus three recent graduates of the academy, looked to be taking the Lancashire FA Cup tie to penalties but they were beaten by Nick Haughton’s late strike.
“It was a real good test. Fleetwood had 11 professional footballers out there whilst we had three, so it was a great marker for our lads to see where they’re at and where they’ve got to get to,” Donnelly said.
“We put in a good shift but we’ve probably been done by a referee’s decision in the end. They did have chances so on the balance of play they deserved to win, but it’s hard to lose when I felt that there was a nudge in the back of our midfielder in the middle of the pitch.”
Despite the blow of losing, the game was a great learning experience for the young players, who may not have played against as many professionals before.
“It’s been a real good experience for our lads and one that they’ve all come out of with credit.
“They’ve put a base down for where, if they work hard on their game, they can hopefully move forward to play at this level or even higher.”
Myles Boney, Luke Higham and Henry Cameron featured for Blackpool, with the three former youth products getting some valuable minutes under their belts.
“All three of them are our academy boys. Myles from last year with Henry and Luke from two years previous, but all we asked of them was that they gave it a right good go and they were role models to the younger players.
“Henry’s in desperate need of game time so he’s got a good 60 minutes under his belt after his long-term injury, Myles made his first start for the first team recently so he’s on top of the world and he played confidently.
“Luke played at centre-back for us because I felt we needed some extra experience at the spine of the team and he played great. He can play in any position because he’s a good footballer.”