ACADEMY Manager Dan Robinson believes that playing alongside Shaun Barker, Chris Beardsley and Nick Fenton will have provided young players with some invaluable experience in the Birmingham Senior Cup.
Robinson also says that the performances of Joe Sbarra and Matty Palmer in the first-team shows that young players will be given a chance if they are good enough.
The Brewers put out a starting 11 that mixed experience with youth away to Highgate United last night with Sports Scientist Chris Beardsley, who played for teams such as Doncaster Rovers, Bristol Rovers and Preston North End, and Head Physio Nick Fenton, who made more than 400 appearances in the English Football League, both starting.
Beardsley opened the scoring for the Brewers before being replaced by club captain Shaun Barker, who scored Burton’s second of the game. Fenton played the full 90 minutes and was a commanding presence at the back as Burton won the game 3-2.
Academy players Charlie Dowd and Tristan Matthews provided assists for the first two goals, while Reece Hutchinson scored the winner with a terrific finish in the closing stages.
Robinson was pleased to see the younger players get the chance to play with more experienced players in a competitive game and hopes that it will help the players in their development.
Speaking after the game, Robinson said: “That (playing alongside Beardsley, Barker and Fenton) is big for the boys. Shaun Barker is very much involved with the first team, Chris Beardsley and Nick Fenton both played at a very good level and have been able to show the boys how to show leadership, head balls and finish scrappy goals.
"We said at half time that it wasn’t going to be a pretty finish that won the game and Shaun’s goal epitomises that, it was a fantastic cross from Tristan Matthews and nothing but desire from Barks, to put the ball in like that is fantastic.
“Any of these games that the Gaffer asks the Academy to take some ownership of is amazing experience for the boys because they are playing real competitive football, you could see a decent crowd for Highgate as well and the game meant a lot to them, so when you are playing in youth development football every week, it is brilliant experience for them to be catapulted into the ‘hurley-burley’ nature of real football.”
The Academy Manager has also been encouraged by the first-team performances of Palmer and Sbarra in recent weeks and hopes that the current crop of Academy talents can take inspiration from graduates who are playing in the first-team.
“It (seeing Sbarra and Palmer play for the first-team) re-iterates that there is a pathway for the players and the manager will play you, if you are good enough then you are old enough and he will give you the opportunity if you are doing the job. Matty scored a brilliant goal against Sheffield United and has worked his way back into the team, and I hope that Joe Sbarra can keep progressing and getting better and better, because he is an exciting player.”