The Barnet FC Youth Team moved seven points clear at the top of the Football League Youth Alliance South East division on Saturday with an excellent 2-1 win away to second-placed Milton Keynes Dons.
The Bees took the lead shortly after half time when Shane Cojocarel latched onto a perfectly-weighted through ball between the centre-half and the full-back by Wesley Fonguck before finishing from an acute angle.
The free-scoring Mathew Stevens then doubled Barnet’s lead on 65 minutes with a simple finish following an excellent piece of skill and cut-back from George Booker.
The hosts did pull a goal back with twenty minutes remaining, but Barnet were able to hold on to a vital victory that takes them seven points clear of their nearest rivals with just five matches remaining, although the Dons do have a game in hand.
Speaking after the game, coach Ross Eames was full of praise for his young side after bouncing back from defeat last time out:
“It was a great reaction from last week versus Watford. They set about at the start of the week to put that defeat right and they really did well.
“Regardless of the result the performance was very, very good. We probably could have scored a few more but credit to MK Dons who defended very well. They blocked quite a few shots off the line and the goalkeeper pulled off some good saves.”
With his team now having built a commanding lead heading into the final stretch of the season, Eames admits that a first league title would be some achievement, although with so many of his young charges pushing for first team recognition he is adamant that that is not his only focus:
“For myself and Henry we have really harped on about how the quality of performance is key to their development. If you get that right, the win happens naturally 99 times out of 100.
“Getting these development players into the first team and becoming professional footballers is our main target.
“But the boys are beginning to think that they can win this league, and if they do it then it would be the first time that it has been done in the Academy’s history so that would be excellent.”
Barnet’s next league fixture will not be until December 20th when they face Cambridge United at home, with this weekend’s game against Southend United being postponed due to the Shrimpers’ FA Youth Cup commitments.