Professional development phase lead coach Neil Cluxton is halfway through the season in his new role in the club’s academy and he spoke to Spireites Digital about how the campaign has gone so far.
“I’m really enjoying it,” he said.
“We’ve got a good set of lads and a good team of staff around us as well.
“Everybody pulls together.
“In terms of performance and results-wise, we’ve had a tough start.
“We’ve started to turn it around and over the last few weeks, we have beat Notts County and beat Burton Albion.
“We’ve had a few good results and we have started to turn things around a touch.”
After getting past both Mickleover and Romulus FC in the FA Youth Cup the young Spireites’ run in the competition came to an end on Monday night after a 2-1 defeat to Burton Albion.
It was the second time this season that the youth team have played at the Proact and Cluxton stated that even though it was a shame to exit the competition, he knows that the experience will be invaluable for the young players.
Cluxton explained: “It was a disappointment to go out of the FA Youth Cup in the week to Burton Albion.
“We just didn’t perform on the night and I think they deservedly beat us.
“On another night with the chances we had, we could have got a draw and took it into extra time.
“It wasn’t a massive crowd but just the build-up to it all, we had a pre-match meal at the ground and went through a pre-match routine.
“We had our pre-match warm-up on the pitch and used the first-team dressing room.
“It was great and the lads really enjoyed it.”
The U18s had a difficult start to the campaign but find themselves on a decent run of form with two wins in their last three league matches.
The youth coach put forward that the recent victories have meant that his sides’ spirits are high, by saying: “We are starting to get a bit of confidence now and we’ve got a formation that is suiting us at the moment.
“We are playing to the players’ strengths and the team’s strengths.
“The communication is getting a lot better between the boys and there is a lot more positivity.
“If you get a couple of wins all of a sudden everybody feels better and want to get out on the pitch so hopefully it’s going to continue for the rest of the season.”
A few academy players were part of the squad that travelled to Glossop for Wednesday night’s Derbyshire Senior Cup tie with the likes of Dylan Wharton, Chad Gibson, Josh Turner and Javanne Smith all featuring.
Cluxton claimed that even though the game ended in a 2-0 defeat, the youngsters will have learnt a lot from playing alongside some of Chesterfield’s more senior members.
“It was a great opportunity for the boys,” explained the youth coach.
“We had Chad and Dylan starting and we had three lads on the bench.
“Chad did really well. He put some great balls in the first half and got up and down the pitch really well.
“Dylan had a solid game as well, I don’t think he could have done much about the two goals.
“With their second goal, he made a great save initially and unfortunately the rebound went to the opposition.
“Javanne and Josh Turner came on late into the game and both did alright and represented the youth team well.
“I’m sure they will benefit from the experience of being in and around the first-team players.”
Recent academy graduates such as Luke Rawson, Levi Amantchi and Jamie Sharman went on to make first-team appearances last season and Cluxton was very positive about their influence on the players currently in the academy.
“They are great role models,” said the under 18s coach.
“The likes of Luke Rawson, Jack Holmes and Alex Render are always speaking to the lads and encouraging them.
“They were down here on Monday night watching the Youth Cup, which was great.
“They still talk to the boys on a regular basis. They are characters and players that the young boys aspire to.”
The youth team are currently third from bottom in the league after their recent upturn in form and have a busy schedule of matches just around the corner.
Cluxton explained to Spireites Digital that his aim for the rest of the season is for the youngsters to get as high up the table as they can and bring as many of them through to the first team.
“We just want to be competitive in the league,” claimed Cluxton.
“The long term ambition and target is to push through players into the under 23 squad initially and then after that hopefully push on to the first team.
“The lads have to keep plugging away and have to be patient.
“They have to be fit and mentally strong so when they get the opportunity they can show how good they are.”