Forest Green Rovers picked up all three points in the Youth Alliance League, as they ran out comfortable 4-1 winners over Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
A Dan Jones brace had Rovers in the driving seat after less than an hour, before Destiny Oladipo and Luke Hallett set the result in stone, despite a late strike from the Robins.
It was a confident display, and Under 18s manager Chris Barker highlighted the improvements his side had made.
“We dominated the game,” he said.
“I asked them for more hard work out of possession and that’s what they gave me.
“Once again, the passing was nice and tidy, and we kept the ball well. It’s always nice to beat a local team and the boys did really well.”
With such a heavy schedule in academy football, Barker explained the importance of rotation and making sure his whole squad get minutes under their belts.
“We went 3-0 up, then I made loads of changes and we got a goal each towards the end. Everyone got minutes and everyone got time, but we dominated from start to finish,” he said.
“The boys are expected to play about 50 games a season so you can’t keep relying on the same four or five. You have to keep everyone fit whether that be in friendlies or with some topping up during the week.
“We had a cup game against Plymouth last week and I changed the team, and there were a few extra players who got run-outs on Saturday.
“It’s a two-year scholarship and you have to keep up that progression.”
Midfielder Dan Jones, who has been a key contributor going forward this campaign, found the scoresheet twice more in Saturday’s victory.
“Dan Jones has already scored more goals than he did in the whole of last season, and he’s working harder out of possession,” explained the U18s boss.
“He’s doing more sessions in the gym as well which is fantastic to see and hopefully that progression will continue.
“He’s also training with the first team which will get more out of him.”