After making a number of changes to his side, Anthony Limbrick was happy with his young team’s performance in the 2-2 draw with Stoke City on Saturday.
Edward Dryden’s late equaliser snatched the points away from Saints, who had come back from a goal down to lead 2-1 thanks to a brace from Olufela Olomola.
But Under-18s coach Limbrick, who handed first starts to Dave Musendo, Connor Langan and Tyreke Johnson, was satisfied with the display and felt the inexperienced members of his squad acquitted themselves well against the Potters at Staplewood.
“To start three 16s in their first 18s game and to come out with that sort of performance in quite a tight game, I thought we played fairly well,” he said.
“It’s a rise in tempo and intensity in the games and they dealt with that well. Obviously they need a lot of work to be pushing and starting the team regularly for next season, but they got their opportunity today and I was really pleased with them.
“I thought there were some decent performances in there from a lot of young players, so that was really pleasing. I thought we had definitely done enough at 2-1, we just got caught out a little bit from the set play which is always disappointing, but overall I’m fairly pleased and was just disappointed really for the players, because they deserved to get the win.
“We said 'let’s get the performance right and then the win will come', and we nearly got there and nearly did that. I was a little bit disappointed with that, it would’ve been nice to win and climb up that table, but we’ve got two more to go – Arsenal away and Bolton at home – and they’re very winnable games, so we’ll do our best there.
“We had good periods of possession, created more chances than them, pressed well – the first goal came from a good bit of pressure and Fela with a nice finish, and it was good to see him score two today.”
Olomola’s fourth and fifth goals of the campaign had turned the game on its head after Thomas Shepherd’s 18th-minute strike for Stoke, and after deploying him as a centre forward in the absence of leading scorer Marcus Barnes, Limbrick said he was pleased with the forward’s impact.
“Marcus was still sick so he got an opportunity to go up there, and he was clinical today. It was good to see him get in the box and score two,” he said.
“He was clinical, and he still had another couple of chances as well, but I was pleased for him. He worked hard and came off at the end, and it’s good to see him get in the goals and I think he’s scored five now, so it’s been good for him.”