Wednesday evening brought another run-out for youth team trio Nic Bollado, Ryan Carr and Kai Nugent, and all three acquitted themselves admirably as they slotted in beside their more senior teammates.
“They add an energy and passion and they show that they want to play for the club,” assistant manager Gav Skelton said. “That’s obvious, and they showed good enthusiasm.
“They’ve trained with us from the start and it’s good for them to see a pathway. They bring an honesty to what they do, which is nice to see.
“It’s early for the young boys, and it’s no disrespect, but looking too far ahead is a long way off for them.
“It’s always about who can put themselves in the picture whatever, and young lads often get opportunities in pre-season.
“They’re doing themselves no harm for their longer future, but in terms of bodies we know we need a few more experienced players.
“We know they can challenge and do well, and hopefully one or two can come through and play. We’re not getting carried away because we still know where we need to get to in term of bodies to add.
“But at the moment we have players right the way through who are impressing. The experienced ones went about it the right way, with Devitt scoring, Jon Mellish showing how he steps in and opens the game up, which was pleasing.
“The young ones look for the lead off the older pros who are really good with them and who encourage them during the game.
“The mentality’s changed where they really help the young ones coming along and developing, that’s credit to the group.
“We know there are going to be tougher tests ahead and we know where we need to strengthen the squad. We know we need a few bodies in, and it’s frustrating at times when we can’t do that, but there’s a lot of work going on and the manager’s adamant what he wants, and hopefully we’ll get them in, whenever that is.”
On the first appearances for Ben Barclay and Sonny Hilton, he told us: “It’s pleasing to see them and obviously it’s nice for Sonny to score.
“He’s a very talented footballer and scoring is good for his confidence. Even in the warm-up you hear him talking and you see the leadership skills, which is what you want to see out there.
“It’s always good if you get a bit of leadership in the squad and he’s bedding himself in at the moment, because he’s only been with us a couple of days because of his little injury.
“I think he’ll add to our understanding of games and the demands we want on the pitch because of his personality.
“He’s a good footballer, hopefully exciting against stiffer challenges, and he’s been back training this week, which is pleasing.
“He just had a minor knock last week, which is why he missed Penrith. Hopefully he’ll get stronger and stronger and get to know the group, and get that cohesion even more.
“And Ben, even in the warm-up, it’s unopposed, but there are demands from him, which is good. I always think teams that demand off each other.
“I notice when we play other League Two teams, the ones who do well are almost taking it themselves, because of the demands, they don’t let standards slip, and I get the feeling he might be one of them. The more of them you can get in the building and the squad the better.”
Impossible to miss in the second half was the hat-trick from Jamie Devitt, netted in the final 11 minutes of the encounter.
“That was good,” he said. “He’s missed quite a bit of pre-season, the first couple of days, he missed last week, but he’s trained this week and it was nice for him to get 45 minutes and he showed his quality with his three goals.
“I think Jamie knows it all depends on his fitness. He’s trained this week, missed last week, and now has 45 minutes under his belt.
“Hopefully he’ll have no reaction from his slight knock last week.”
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