Academy coach Dylan Kerr, was delighted with his team’s second half performance as they overturned a half time deficit to beat Doncaster 2-1 at Clay Cross on Saturday.
The young Spireites went into the interval trailing 0-1, but goals from substitute Owen Darwent and Dylan Hand secured a second consecutive win in the EFL Youth Alliance.
On the game Kerr said: “It was that old of cliché of it being a game of two halves.
“In the first half none of us showed up, but at half time we changed a few things and said to the lads about their roles in the youth team, about commitment and effort, putting the opposition under pressure and it worked!
“We didn’t really give Doncaster a chance in the second half because of that work ethic and they got their rewards.”
Not only was Hand’s winning goal in the closing minutes special for the players, but it was extra special for one man in particular.
“The joy in their faces was great to see,” Kerr said.
“Especially after academy manager, Mark Smith, came in at half time and said a few choice words to them about the ideals of Chesterfield Football Club.
“And it was good for him (Smith) as well, as it was his first victory over Doncaster for a long, long time. So I think he had a good weekend!”
So what changed after the interval?
“When you’re playing in these games, with the conditions of the field - and no disrespect we’re not Barcelona or Real Madrid - we want to get the ethic of putting work in to get your rewards, and that wasn’t happening in the first half,” Kerr explained.
“The goal we conceded was a mistake from Dylan Parkin, but it’s one he’ll learn from. As we always say to the kids, you have got to learn every day you come in.
“You don’t want to come into the dressing room at half time with a negative mind frame; you want to keep it as positive as you can. Sometimes you need to put your foot down and say ‘come on lads, roll your sleeves up and scrap for the result.
“And we did and we never gave them any chances in the second half. Whereas in the first half, we weren't really matching their runs or pressing and we didn't look like a Chesterfield team that we know we can be.”
The victory means that the young Spireites have continued what has been an impressive start to 2017, with many scholars playing a part at reserve team level as well. One that Kerr wants to see continue.
He said: “We’ve set them a challenge in this New Year, for the second years it is an important stage for them, because they’ve only got a few months left.
“While for the first years we keep on emphasising that the clock ticks down very quickly. They might think that you’ll have 16 months, but those months will go very very fast, so you’ve got step up to the plate.
“It’s that mentality of work hard first, get the graft in and then reap the benefits from that.”
As has been the case in recent weeks, several scholars will be involved in the reserve team match at Rotherham United tomorrow (1pm), and the players have certainly done themselves proud.
And Kerr believes that the experience of playing reserve team football will not only benefit the scholars’ immediate development, but will help them long term as well.
“It’s good that the majority of our scholars are going to be playing in the reserves again tomorrow,” he added “and again it’s important for these second years to be making a mark in the new manager’s mind, as well as Ritchie Humphreys’ and Smith’s.”
“It’s going to be a big game, it’s great to be playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday, and you can’t beat that.
“And hopefully the disappointment of Mansfield Town can be turned around because we’ve got four professionals that are playing with us.”
Chesterfield team vs. Doncaster: Parkin, Ofoegbu, Fowler, Foster, Hand, Lynam, Rowley, Brownell, Wakefield, Tipping, Amantchi.
Subs: Jones (gk), McKenna, Darwent, Phillips, Sennett.