Academy coach Dylan Kerr was delighted with his team’s 3-2 over Grimsby Town last weekend, and wants to see back to back wins when the youth team travel to Bradford City tomorrow (11am).
The win over the Mariners was secured thanks to goals from Ricky German, Josh Tipping and Conor Fowler, and Kerr was particularly impressed with the opening 45 minutes.
He said: “It was a great result last week; our first half performance was the best I’ve seen since I’ve been here.
“Collectively and individually they did everything that we asked of them and more, we went in to half time 2-0 up and it could have been five.
“I spoke to the players at half time and told them that Grimsby were going to come at us and not to drop their standards, but unfortunately we let them back into the game at 2-2.
“Brad Jones then made a wonder save to stop them going ahead before Conor Fowler popped up in the final minutes with a goal.
“I’m expecting and hoping that we continue that first half performance against Bradford, only this time do it for 90 minutes and not just for 45.”
The youth team’s ranks will be boosted with the return of defender Jay Smith following injury.
Smith signed his first professional contract earlier this month, and has battled back from a ruptured anterior talofibular ligament injury to play a part in the final three EFL Youth Alliance fixtures.
“It’s good to see him back,” Kerr said. “We’re looking to give him 45-60 minutes, though we’ll listen to the physios on what’s best for him, hopefully he’ll come through it unscathed.
“All credit to Kristian Thackray [academy physio], he’s worked really hard with Jay to get him back on track and get him games before the end of the season.
“Jay has worked hard and has been frustrated at not playing, so it’s really good to see him back.”
The match at Bradford is the first of two in three days for Kerr’s squad, and it precedes a fixture against Oldham Athletic on Monday (12pm) at the Proact.
The youth team squad will again feature U16s who will become next season’s first year scholars, and the two matches will further enhance their experience.
Kerr added: “We’ll have a lot of the current U16s playing in the next three games, on Monday we play Oldham and I want to give them a taster of what it’s like to play in a stadium.
“It’s something that I’m looking forward too, and I want to give those players an insight into what it’s like at Chesterfield FC.”
Meanwhile there was further success for the academy on Easter Monday, as 16-year-old midfielder Charlie Wakefield made his first team debut at Scunthorpe United.
Wakefield was the latest to graduate to play first team football this season, following the likes of Joe Rowley and German, and Kerr reflected on what has been a successful time for the academy as a whole.
“Our academy manager, Mark Smith, has a great resume of talented kids that he’s brought through at every club he’s been at,” he said.
“We’ve brought in five this season, and three have made their debuts, while Jack Brownell has been included in the squad recently as well.
“Jay is now training with the first team and has had that experience as has Dylan Parkin and Iffy Ofoegbu, so if you think about it, there are a lot of positives coming out of the academy.
“We’ve now got to draw on that and focus on the next 12 months with next season’s first and second year scholars.”