Forest Green Rovers Under 18s’ manager Chris Barker says his side can treat their FA Youth Cup defeat to Cheltenham Town as a learning curve as his side lost 3-1 at The New Lawn.
Aaron Basford opened the scoring early on for the Robins before Dan Ogunleye had a chance to equalise from the spot after 13 minutes. Although his penalty was saved, Ogunleye redeemed himself just four minutes later as he raced through on goal to slot past Freddie Lapworth.
The visitors came out strongly in the second half and found the net twice as William Dawes finished from close range shortly after the break before Basford bagged himself a brace with less than a quarter of an hour to play.
Although Barker was disappointed with the result he believes that his side can take some valuable lessons from the game.
“As long as the boys learn from it then that’s fine. It’s a learning curve and it’s a great experience for the boys to come and play here and hopefully it is a day they will always remember whatever they end up doing in their career,” he said.
“It’s a great thing for these lads and I’m sure they will remember it for a long time. Playing on a first-team pitch in the FA Youth Cup, especially when they are 15 and 16 is brilliant and hopefully they will push on with the reserves and the first team.
“It’s disappointing that we haven’t won tonight but, as I say, it’s a learning curve and these games are crucial for the young lads.”
Ogunleye found the net once again for the academy side and has looked in fine form recently, even earning himself a place on the bench for FGR's trip to Coventry City in the Checkatrade Trophy earlier in the month and Barker believes that the things he learns while away with the first team, can really benefit the other young players around him.
“Dan’s on fire for us at the moment. He’s got seven or eight goals for us and he’s a great lad and wants to learn so I’m not surprised that he’s buried that one-on-one,” he said.
"Dan’s also travelled with the first team to Coventry City so hopefully he’ll push on in the next 18 months.
“Just being around the first team, being on the bus and hearing Mark Cooper’s team talks will all be experiences that will be incredibly useful and hopefully he can bring that back down to the Under 18s and hopefully the other boys can feed off it.”
The U18s manager also passed on his congratulations to the visiting side, wishing them well in the next round where they will face Gillingham.
“I just want to say congratulations to Cheltenham tonight. They took their chances and we didn’t. The boys really tried and were dedicated but we just came short tonight.”