Forest Green Rovers head of academy Scott Bartlett says his Under 18 side dipped below their usual standards at the Royal Agricultural University on Saturday after a 5-1 defeat to Plymouth Argyle in their final game before the league splits.
Rovers started the game well and will feel unfortunate they found themselves a goal behind in the 17th minute through an error Bartlett described as “uncharacteristic”.
Unfortunately, Forest Green were not able to turn it around, conceding to a two-goal deficit and eventually a 5-1 defeat, with Bartlett keen for his players to use the game as a learning curve.
“In possession, I thought we were still a threat; the way we managed to play out from the back and get our creative players on the ball,” he said.
“Whether it was tiredness or not I’m not sure. We haven’t played many games recently, I don’t know whether that had an impact or not.
“But, to be fair to the lads, they’ve been brilliant day in and day out, however, we did dip below that usual standard.
“A few individual errors cost us and then the game ran away from us as we were chasing it, but it’s a great learning tool for the boys.”
Several Under 16 players were given the chance to impress in the higher age group on Saturday with a handful of the Under 18s out on work experience loans.
Bartlett was impressed by their application and he believes they will be better for the experience despite the result.
“Our team’s changing at the minute,” he said.
“We’re evolving and our last second-years are out on loan so it wouldn’t surprise me if we had a few results like that for the rest of the season, but it stands us in good stead for the young ones coming in.
“I thought they did really well. We’ve got a good crop of 16s coming through which forms part of our thought process of getting our second-years out on loan into men’s football and they’ve gone out and done really well at the weekend.”
A couple of Under 18s were also involved in the midweek Central League fixture against Bristol Rovers, another part of their development at the club that Bartlett was pleased with.
“It should give them confidence,” he explained.
“It gives them more valuable experience in those kinds of games.
“The Central League games are fantastic on the days where we get the balance right, in terms of whose playing against which opposition, so that’s really valuable to us as well.
“It’s really valuable for them to play alongside your Scott Laird’s, Lee Collins’ and Reuben Reid’s where they’re going to learn masses from them.”
With a number of second-year scholars out on work experience loans, including Jay Malshanskyj and Sam Hendy both at Longlevens AFC and Taylor Marsh and Rendijs Kalnins at Shortwood United, Bartlett was able to give an update on their progress, with Malshanskyj already opening his account.
“Jay and Sam are at Longlevens, doing really well on their loan spells,” he added.
“I think they’ve really added to them as well, which is a real positive.
“Jay scored two crackers at the weekend and Sam had an assist and a strong performance again.
“It’s still early days for Taylor and Rendijs because their game at Shortwood was called off on Saturday against Bridport away.
“So they’ll enjoy that and then we’ll go watch them on Saturday in their next home game.”