DONCASTER Rovers Youth team will begin the defence of their Football League Youth Alliance Cup at Accrington Stanley on Saturday week.
Rovers, who beat Exeter at last season’s final, will go into the game top of the North-East League table.
“We hadn’t expected the team to do so well with us only having a young side this season,” said Head of Youth Paul Wilson.
“The team have been excellent. They are top of the league and are unbeaten and they have been fantastic. We know we are going to hit a wall soon because it is a massive ask of them to keep doing as well as they are with seven or eight first-year players in the side.”
The club, who head York City in the table, finished runners-up to Hull City last season.
“Last year, we had an older team so we hoped that we would de reasonably well because we had one or two good individuals such as James Husband, now a regular in the first-team squad,” said Wilson talking exclusively to The Star. “But we are a very young side and we know that it is going to be difficult to stay where we are, and we’ve not been helped by the fact that second year striker Chris Whincop broke his leg playing against Notts County a few weeks ago and that makes us even lighter.
“We competed in the Gothia Cup in Sweden in pre-season, and despite playing against Under-19s teams, we reached the quarter-finals. The lads were exceptionally young compared to the other sides but they did well and were unbeaten and only lost on penalties.
“They gave a good account of themselves against some strong and well established sides; they’ve carried that form into the league at the start of the season.
“We’ve rode our luck in games, which obviously you need to do, and at times we’ve been unlucky as well. We drew with York recently and they are a big, strong second-year team and on the day they were just a bit better than us. But we hung in there and ground out a draw and, to be fair, unlucky not to win it in the end because we missed an open goal.
“We try and play when we can play, but even the likes of Premier League Arsenal, who want to play pure football, have to go long sometimes. We try and encourage the lads to play but it’s a decision that they have to make for themselves at that moment in time during a game. Football is all about making the right decisions at the right time.
“We’ve got three first-year’s in the back-four and two of them are only just 16, and I think that they have to take a lot of credit because they are exceptionally young.
”Centre-back Jordan Binns is the only second year and he’s sort of held them together. Goalkeeper Aaron Busby has also done well behind the back four and he’s made some good saves.
“Josh Meade and Harry Middleton, who has been on the first team bench a couple of times this season, have both done well in midfield, are both second years and they give us that bit of experience that we need. Alex Peterson has been doing really well in attack, as was Chris before he was injured.
“Most of the squad are local boys and have been with us for a few years and come up through the age groups. We are absolutely delighted with them and how they are progressing.”