Forest Green Rovers Academy Manager Scott Bartlett said their style of play helped the Under 18s get the better of testing conditions in their 3-0 victory against Cheltenham Town at the Royal Agricultural University on Saturday which see them sit top of Merit League 2.
FGR found their rhythm midway through the first half with three quick-fire goals from midfielders Sam Hendy and Dan Bradshaw, who secured himself a brace of free-kicks, leaving Bartlett happy with a solid display from a young side.
“I thought it was a good performance by us in really testing conditions,” he said.
“I’ve been here a long time and I’ve never known wind like this at the training ground.
“The wind went down the middle of the pitch rather than from goal to goal and for us, we take the wind factor out of it because of the way we play.
“Our goalkeeper Dec (Lehmann) has very good distribution and that helped us build from the back despite the weather, I feel we did really well and a lot of our patterns came out because of our shape in transition which was pleasing.
“We asked them to be a bit more resilient a few weeks ago, they showed that in abundance today and I thought we were well worthy of the win which keeps a good run of form going.”
Naturally, victories are much better when they are against your local rivals but Bartlett insists it makes no difference to him nor his young side.
“We get on well with Cheltenham as an academy so we probably don’t see it the same way as you might at senior level” he explained.
It makes no difference to me whether it be Cheltenham, Gillingham or Leyton Orient, the next game is always the most important and the boys prepared for it really well this week and did very well today.”
Saturday’s fixture also saw several new players included in the matchday squad with a number of Under 16s involved, along with a few of the players who have been out on work experience loans returning, including the impressive Jay Malshanskyj.
“They’ve been doing really well,” Bartlett said.
“We’ve got Jay (Malshanskyj) back and Sam (Hendy) just to see where they are and the impact that being at Longlevens has had on them.
“The only way to do that is to put them back into our environment and measure them against previous performances and you can see that they’re outgrowing this level now, I though both were excellent today.
“Rendijs (Kalnins) and Taylor (Marsh) are at Shortwood helping to kick-start their season and they’re getting valuable minutes and experience in that adult and senior environment as well as Elias Youssef who is enjoying a good start to life at Wootton Bassett.
“It’s been a good process for us and I think we’ll look to put Sam and Jay back out now which’ll give some of the youngsters and others a chance between now and the end of the season to play.”
Forest Green now look to a long away trip down to Plymouth Argyle next Saturday with Bartlett insisting that his young side need to get used to the travelling, if they are to make it to the next level.
He said: “Plymouth are probably the team we’ve played the most over the past two years and it always a competitive fixture.
“It’s a long journey and the 11am kick off provides an additional challenge for the boys but travelling is part of a footballers life, for example, our first-team are at Morecambe today and then go to Colchester on Tuesday.
“We look forward to going down to Plymouth, it’s normally a decent surface and a good game as well.”