NPL Division One East
Brighouse Town manager Vill Powell admits the West Riding County Cup win over Knaresborough Town underlined the calibre of the club’s youngsters.
Powell, whose side won on penalties despite playing with ten men for 87 minutes, fielded several players from the Brighouse set-up.
Seventeen-year-old Charlie English was between the sticks while MacKenzie Stocks, 16, centre-half alongside 19-year-old Harry Wilkinson.
Sam Brearley, 17, and Sam Reed, 18, were substitutes.
“The back four was very inexperienced and there was only Matty Nebard who has played regular first team football at our level,” Powell told Non League Yorkshire.
“What it tells me is they all have the right attitudes.
“Quality will take care of itself but you have to have the right attitude to dig in during adverse situations when things aren’t going your way.
“They did that in what was a tough game.
“(To be break them into the first team) was always the plan and you can back to two first team regulars we have now in Harrison Beeden and Javelle Clarke (to see that I have done it before).
“They have been with me since they were 16 and they have established themselves as first team regulars.
“If (those involved in the Knaresborough game) keep working hard and progressing in their age groups we’ll dip them in and out of games and it is case of them taking their chances when they get them.”
The win was fairly extraordinary as Alex O’Connor was sent off after just three minutes.
Knaresborough then took the lead.
Brighouse fought back through Zeph Thomas before winning the shootout to delight Powell.
“It was really pleasing,” he said.
“I’ve never experienced that before as a manager.
“It was basically 90 minutes because the lad got sent off after two minutes and it was 90 minutes with an inexperienced side.
“I was really pleased with the work rate which was immense.
“We certainly matched them and you wouldn’t have thought it was ten versus eleven.
“We probably should have won it in normal time as in the second half we had several chances where we should have scored.
“Penalties are a lottery but I thought it was deserved either way based on that we had ten men, how we weathered it and how we still took the game to them.”
Brighouse are back in league action tomorrow with the trip to Lincoln United.
The play-offs have been long-stated as Powell’s personal aim for the campaign.
Although the top four is beginning to pull away, Powell does not agree that fifth place is only the available slot for his men.
“I just see it as very early,” he said.
“I have to be realistic and we did an evaluation last week after the Cleethorpes defeat and we only have six players who have played a full season at Step 4.
“The rest have been either brought up from the level below, been released from a club, come up through our youth set-up but haven’t completed a full season at Step 4 or above.
“That’s the inexperience we have got.
“For us, getting in the play-offs is something we want to try and achieve.
“It is going to be difficult but it is going to be about getting that little run together.
“We’re only touching a third of the season.
“We’ve still got two-thirds to go and a little run of four or five games can make a big difference.
“Play-offs are a target but at this point in time it is about getting consistent with our performances and if we do that we’ll have a chance.”