Head of FGR Academy Scott Bartlett was impressed with Forest Green Rovers Under 18s’ mature performance after their 3-1 away win away to Newport County in the EFL Merit League Two on Saturday.
Three first-half goals from top scorer Dan Ogunleye, Dan Jones and Oliver Artwell were enough to ease Rovers to victory against a tough Newport side.
Bartlett praised his players’ bravery after their convincing win in Wales and is happy to see a side, who still have a number of Under 16s in the ranks, growing as the campaign progresses and enjoying their football.
“Our plan was to be brave and play our passing game on a difficult pitch away from home,” Bartlett said after the win.
“We had worked on our attacking play in training and the three scorers linked up well all game.
“We passed the ball very well and got our attacking players into very dangerous areas.
“It was really pleasing to see against tough opposition who had beaten Bristol Rovers and Gillingham recently.
“The boys are maturing well and have been fantastic at welcoming newcomers into the squad like our Under 16s and trialists.
“They’ve taken everything from training on board and it’s no surprise because it’s a great way of playing.
“The boys are still learning to recognise when and how to play out from defence despite being successful this season, you can see they’re really enjoying their football.”
A number of the Under 18s featured alongside first-team pros last week in the Central League win over Cheltenham Town, with another home game against Southend United tomorrow.
Bartlett believes that this exposure to men’s football has been vital in developing the players which, in turn, is benefiting their performances in the EFL Merit League Two.
“We’re really seeing them develop now,” he said.
“It’s no coincidence that it has been in conjunction with exposure to the Central League games, different opposition and our first team coaching staff.
“We’ve put in an extra session each week which helps us prepare our squad and include the u16s that are coming through which has worked out well for us.”
Rovers face local rivals Cheltenham Town this Saturday, but Bartlett says the team are looking forward to the challenge.
“Every game at this standard is a test, some in different ways to others,” he added.
“Cheltenham have a little bit of everything, physicality, quality in key areas and a highly competitive squad.
“We’ve played each other a lot recently with two games in the Central League, so the players know each other inside out.
“It’s a game we are very much looking forward to.”