Chesterfield academy coach Dylan Kerr was proud of his team, after they suffered a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out loss to Wigan Athletic on Tuesday.
Jake Beesley had equalised for the Spireites in the second half, after Luke Burgess gave the visitors a 0-1 half time lead. With the match then going straight to penalties, Spireites captain Joe Rowley saw his spot kick saved, before James Barrigan converted Wigan’s fifth, to send them into the Central League Cup final.
“It hit them once they got in to the dressing room that they’d missed out on a final,” Kerr said.
“During the game we rode our luck a few times, but in saying that I think Wigan were lucky that we didn’t finish them off in the first 20 minutes, with Ricky German having three chances and Iffy Ofoegbu having a chance where their goalkeeper has done really well to stop him.
“In the first half we didn’t play to our normal tempo, our selection for the game was hindered due to injury, illness and Marc McKenna and Josh Tipping being on international duty with Northern Ireland, so with all things considered it was a good performance.”
And despite seeing the crucial spot-kick saved, there was no blame attached to the captain, with Kerr expecting both he and the team to bounce back quickly.
He said: “It’s quite funny because Joe was speaking before the shoot-out, and he said to the lads ‘pick a corner, don’t change your mind’ and unfortunately he’s the one who missed.
“I spoke to him afterwards and he said he saw the goalkeeper move and changed his mind but that’s football.
“The lads have to look at it as a positive, they played against a good side and would have learned a lot, but I see it as a draw in the end – even though we lost on penalties – so the unbeaten run for the scholars is maintained.
“To draw 1-1 with how the day played out – we weren’t sure if the match would be on – the lads did well, so now we have to prepare for Burton Albion on Saturday.”
Kerr’s men make the short trip to Burton, looking to add to the two EFL Youth Alliance wins already obtained in 2017.
There was frustration for the youth team last weekend after their scheduled match with Oldham Athletic was postponed for a second time – the fourth of the calendar year to have fallen foul of the weather.
And with the scholar’s likely to be involved in future reserve team matches it leaves Kerr looking at each fixture with an eye on next season.
“We’ve got to go to Burton and put in a good performance, in particular the second years, as its decision day for them at the beginning of April,” he added.
“Games are coming thick and fast, we’re getting friendlies in place for next season’s scholars to play alongside the first years.
“From those matches, we’ll get an understanding of how people play, so that when we come back in pre-season we’re ready and raring to go.”
Chesterfield line-up vs. Wigan: Parkin, Beesley, Ofoegbu, Sennett, Hand, Lynam, Fowler, Darwent, German, Rowley, Wakefield.
Subs: Jones, Rawson, Phillips, Sharman.